Happy birthday to Emily Brontë, born July 30, 1818. Despite a short bibliography — she wrote only one novel, “Wuthering Heights” — she’s still considered one of the towering figures of 19th-century British literature.
Brontë was born on July 30, 1818, in Thornton, West Yorkshire, England.
After a brief career as a teacher, in 1947 Brontë published what would be her only novel, “Wuthering Heights.” The story of a doomed romance between Heathcliff, a complicated and tortured foundling, and his beloved Catherine, who spurns him for a man of higher class, has endured through the years as a powerful reflection on jealousy, love and class.
The novel has been adapted for film and television several times. The first film adaptation, directed by A.V. Bramble and released in 1920, has been lost to history. The most recent film version, directed by Andrea Arnold, came out in 2011.
The book also inspired an iconic song. Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights,” written when she was just 18, hit the top of the charts when it was released in 1978, told from the point of view of Catherine.
Brontë had five siblings, two of who also became celebrated authors — Anne, author of “Agnes Grey,” and Charlotte, who wrote “Jane Eyre.”
Her brother, Branwell Brontë, was an artist who died at 31 from tuberculosis worsened by his addiction to alcohol and laudanum. Two sisters, Maria and Elizabeth, died of tuberculosis at the ages of 11 and 10, respectively.
The adult Brontë sisters published a collection of poetry together in 1846 under the pen names Ellis, Acton and Currer Bell.
Emily Brontë’s most famous poem, “No Coward Soul Is Mine,” is still widely read today. The poem ends with this stanza:
There is not room for Death
Nor atom that his might could render void
Since thou art Being and Breath
And what thou art may never be destroyed.
From left, sisters Anne, Emily and Charlotte Brontë painted by their brother, Branwell, circa 1834. (DEA Picture Library / De Agostini/Getty Images)
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.
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