The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of few nineteenth-century novels to address alcoholism, psychological abuse, violence and the inequality of women's property rights. In a powerful psychological narrative, Anne Brontë tells the strange tale of the disintegration of the marriage of Helen Graham, the mysterious tenant of Wildfell Hall. When it was first published in 1848, Anne Brontë's second novel was attacked by the Spectator for its 'morbid love of the coarse, if not the brutal'. In her defence, Anne stated that she 'wished to tell the truth, for truth always conveys its own moral to those who are able to receive it'. Anne's own sister Charlotte considered the novel 'an entire mistake', and after Anne's death in 1849 she suppressed any further editions, wishing to protect her reputation from accusations of immorality. Anne Brontë challenges the reader, proving that she is a novelist in her own right and not just of interest as the youngest sister of the better known authors Charlotte and Emily.

With an Afterword by Kathryn White.

About Anne Bronte

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, first published in 1848 under the pseudonym of Acton Bell, was condemned by critics at the time. Acton was the pseudonym of Anne Brontë (1820-1849), a clergyman's daughter living in Yorkshire. Her older sisters Charlotte and Emily were the authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights respectively. The three had concealed their identities, aware that in the mid-nineteenth century female authors would struggle to have their work accepted seriously. However, the use of pseudonyms actually increased the level of curiosity, rumour-mongering and eventually the myth-makers, who were to revel in the concept of the literary sisterhood, isolated from the world but producing passionate work.

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