Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë‘s only novel, was published in 1847 under the pseudonym “Ellis Bell”. It was written between October 1845 and June 1846. Wuthering Heights and Anne Brontë‘s Agnes Grey were accepted by publisher Thomas Newby before the success of their sister Charlotte’s novel Jane Eyre. After Emily’s death, Charlotte edited the manuscript of Wuthering Heights and arranged for the edited version to be published as a posthumous second edition in 1850.
Although Wuthering Heights is now a classic of English literature, contemporary reviews were deeply polarised; it was controversial because of its unusually stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day regarding religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. The English poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti, although an admirer of the book, referred to it as “A fiend of a book – an incredible monster […] The action is laid in hell, – only it seems places and people have English names there.”
Wuthering Heights has been seen as having elements of the gothic novel, and another significant aspect is the moorland setting. The novel has inspired adaptations, including film, radio and television dramatisations, a musical, a ballet, operas, and a song by Kate Bush.*