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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  54,508 Ratings  ·  2,129 Reviews
'She looked so like herself that I knew not how to bear it'

In this sensational, hard-hitting and passionate tale of marital cruelty, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall sees a mysterious tenant, Helen Graham, unmasked not as a 'wicked woman' as the local gossips would have it, but as the estranged wife of a brutal alcoholic bully, desperate to protect her son.

Using her own exper
Paperback, 524 pages
Published June 28th 2012 by Penguin Books (first published June 1848)
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GMALR You should be able to understand it. Consider the historical context as you read. I would also recommend listening to the audio book, especially the…moreYou should be able to understand it. Consider the historical context as you read. I would also recommend listening to the audio book, especially the version with Alex Jennings as narrator. Hearing the words with correct pronunciation and inflection always helps. The audio book is most likely available at your library.(less)
Ram Laska
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 21, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Carol said I must list my all time favorite books. What a challenge this is! I have read everything those Bronte girls wrote, even their childhood poetry and I love all of it. But Anne will take the showing on my list for her bravery. Of course Charlotte was the most prolific and Emily the true brainiac, but Anne has my complete respect for being a true literary pioneer: she was the first woman to write of a wife leaving her abusive husband - and then goes on to lead a happy, successful life! Up ...more
"Reformed rakes make the best husbands."

This is the maxim that governs the universe of historical romance novels. That a puerile assumption regarding dissolute cads turning into paragons of puritanical goodness on being administered the vital dosage of a virgin's 'love' fuels women's fantasies in this day and age depresses me to no end.
In a sense, this is the dialectical opposite of Kerouac's On the Road in that it systematically demystifies a contrived notion of masculine 'coolness' - the ba
Henry Avila
Dec 17, 2015 Henry Avila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion, Wildfell Hall, abandoned for many years, by the wealthy family, who owned it, as uninhabitable, surrounded by the bleak moorlands, in a remote, quiet village, in the northern English countryside, during the early part of the 19th century, no one knew she was coming, the locals are very curious, who is she ? What is she doing, calling herself Mrs.Graham, a widow, with a lively five- year -old boy, Arthur. The villagers distrust outside ...more
Aug 14, 2015 Yamini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: in-print, classics
[4.5 stars]

Move over, Charlotte. Make room for my new favorite Brontë!

It is inevitable for me to compare Anne Brontë with her sisters, and Helen Graham with Jane Eyre particularly, but I shall momentarily do so anyway. Some said this was better than any Brontë novel published, some claimed it deeply overhyped. After reading this, I shall have to agree with the former claim as I thought this book surpassed, to quite an extent, the love I had for Jane Eyre.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall shook me from
K.D. Absolutely
May 09, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sherwood Smith
I suspect that many readers today have no idea that these three vicarage-raised spinsters took the English publishing world by storm in the mid-eighteen hundreds. Thundering from reviews were words like coarse, shocking, immoral, depraved . . . and those reviewers thought the authors Acton, Ellis, and Currer Bell were men!

Tenant hit the shelves with the biggest splash, requiring a second edition, at the front of which Anne added an impassioned forward aimed at critics. She maintains that she is
MJ Nicholls
The second novel Anne wrote before she caught pulmonary tuberculosis shortly after her 29th birthday. Certainly not something on those 100 Things To Do Before You’re 30 Lists. 1) Paragliding. 2) Kayaking. 3) Catch pulmonary TB and die. See? Good. The problem with those lists is they presuppose readers like the outdoors and have a private income of some three zillion units. Far better the lists have simpler aims for us mortals: 1) Eat a probiotic yoghurt. 2) Bumslide down a banister. 3) Help dryw ...more
May 14, 2010 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Helen. Poor Anne. Poor book...

Anne is just as much a Brontë as her sisters! Her voice, in many ways, completes the harmony and picks up where the two of them leave off. True, there are no fires, ghosts, or windswept moors. But, as one critic noted, "The slamming of Helen's bedroom door against her husband reverberated throughout Victorian England."

I struggle with Victorian literature, because I don't have a clear sense of context. It's difficult for me to separate the author from her time.
Anne Bronte's second novel is often overshadowed by her sisters' more famous novels, Charlotte's Jane Eyre (and three others) and Emily's Wuthering Heights, but it is equally worth reading. It tells the story of Helen Huntingdon, a mysterious woman who comes to live at Wildfell Hall with her child and one servant, and Gilbert Markham, the young man who is powerfully drawn to her and eventually learns her secret: that she left her dissolute, drunken husband in order to shield their son from his i ...more
The Not-So Merry Widow of Wildfell Hall

Anne Brontë explores themes of alcohol abuse and the cruelty it wages on marriage and family; of a mother's ardent protection of her child; implicitly, of women's patterns of silence, alienation from society and forced isolation: in a surprisingly explicit story for its time, yet modern and relevant even today in its concealment of the truth, and the inadvertent practice by women of remaining voiceless in their plight.

Slander, disrepute and condemnation of

I'm currently pulling this and Jane Eyre apart for an essay on the Coming of Age of the Abject Woman. Naturally, Victorian lit of the het cis sane (main character only, which means no Bertha Mason) and white variety is rather slim pickings for such a topic, but I may as well start in a place that will be useful for grad school and, for all my commitments to works beyond the pale, still manages to impress. There's also the matter that with these works, unlike Beloved and Almanac of the Dead,
helen the bookowl
Aug 14, 2015 helen the bookowl rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful love story with one of the most interesting narrative styles I've ever encountered. Without saying too much, the narration of this story shifts, and the overall style is not your typical narration style of a novel. Does this make sense? :P I hope not, because I want for you to read this book and see for yourself what I'm talking about (also I'm really tired when writing this, so bear with me).
Anne Brontë has a way of creating very complicated and also mean characters, and I
Mar 23, 2013 Bethany rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-be-bought, 1001
I can't believe that this book isn't more widely read, I mean Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice are usually mentioned when discussing classic works of fiction by women- yet this is relatively ignored.
I honestly didn't know of this books existence before I went to the library and saw it on the shelf. I didn't know Anne had written anything other than poems. I often feel that Anne is in Emily and Charlotte's shadow but this piece of work is truly inspiring - perhaps more so at
Barry Pierce
Sep 22, 2013 Barry Pierce rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Brontë fans and feminists
This is Austen with balls. By far the most controversial of the Brontë novels, "The Tenant of Wildfall Hall" is a story of abuse, alcoholism, and a woman's struggle to survive the harsh realities of a male dominated society. This is often lauded as the "first feminist novel" because it portrays a strong female protagonist in an abusive marriage which mirrored the scenes of many homes in England at the time.

Guys, this was great. Although I must say it's not up there with "Jane Eyre", it greatly
I felt, reading The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, as if I was watching a black-and-white silent movie. There was the same sense of expressions and gestures exaggerated, made larger than life. Emotions were felt ten-fold. Characters are never just sad, they must be sullenly despondent; they are never just in love, but passionate, painfully so:
She turned from me to hide the emotion she could not quite control; but I took her hand and fervently kissed it. 'Gilbert, do leave me!' she cried, in a tone of
May 29, 2008 C.A. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-victorians
Anne Bronte is severely, severely underrated. This book is fascinating. It's a work of quiet rebellion; the rebellion of Helen and of Anne herself, who is working to subvert some of the Romantic conventions. My edition had a great introduction that posited Helen as a Byronic hero. Admittedly I'm stuck on books that create the female artist (I actually think this has a lot in common with Emily's Quest-- the heroine coded with some male virtues of independence and mystery, the threat of the Heathc ...more
The question "Jane Eyre or Catherine Earnshaw[/Linton/whatever]?" has always annoyed me. I couldn't stand Wuthering Heights, accomplished though it was, and I think lots of people tend to assume I must be something of a Jane Eyre devotee: I'm not. I'm really not.

The next time someone asks me which I prefer, I shall tell them: Helen Huntingdon. Emphatically, enthusiastically, and with the fire of a thousand suns. Helen Huntingdon don't need no man. She's had enough of your friendzoning bullshit.
Jan 13, 2012 Tatiana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 1001
Funny how things change. I used to love this book. I pretty much can't stand it now. 3 stars (it was 5 before today) is just an obligatory i-appreciate-but-not-really-care-for-it rating.

Anne Brontë and I would have never been friends, because it's hard to be a friend with someone so damn righteous and unbendable. Sure, Helen Graham and Agnes Grey are fictional characters, but is there a doubt they are reflections of the author? Not in my mind.

Granted, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a huge impro
May 12, 2013 Joseph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is one of the books that had me banging my head as to why I have waited this long to find it. The Bronte sisters were on my neglected read list for 2013 so I started with the sister I didn't know, Anne. I liked Agnes Grey so I jumped into this book immediately after finishing Agnes Grey.

Gilbert Markham is the story teller or more correctly the letter writer as the novel is the letter Gilbert is writing. Anne Bronte assumes the identity of Gilbert writing as a male fo
That was a rather long letter, eh?
Apr 05, 2011 Sunday rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

(This is how I felt. After I read it.)

Compared to the gothic unicorns that are Charlotte and Emily, Anne is like a reliable and sensible donkey, loaded up with packs of Vitamin C and Band-Aids. Her writing is lovely, but this is seriously a ho-hum tale of female woe in the Victorian era, when women had to flee their husbands by candlelight instead of getting a $50 buck divorce.

This book is one big warning about imprudent marriages, which is just sound advice in general, and is pretty dull. It's
Aug 18, 2015 Vanessa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

It's been a while since I've read a proper classic, so I was a little out of practice. It was also my first time reading a classic on my Kindle, so a lot of headaches ensued. Whether that was because of the Kindle reading or because of the content of the book, I'm still unsure. All I know is it was worth the brain pain.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a fantastic feminist work to begin with. Anne Brontë dared to write brutally honestly about an abusive relationship, and on top of that,
Katie Lumsden
Apr 11, 2016 Katie Lumsden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is incredible. Such a brilliant beautiful and impressive examination of marriage, gender and social status in the 19th century. A wonderful, wonderful novel.
Mar 27, 2016 Kirstine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tore through the first 80 pages online during a tedious uni conference and straight after I went out and bought myself a paperback copy of it. At first I thought it was a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ type story, you know, two people fall in love, but they’re too stubborn to admit it and other things get in the way until they get each other in the end. For a long while I stuck to that theory, so much in the text supported it, but then again… So many things pointed towards something else entirely. Ther ...more
Alun Williams
Aug 02, 2011 Alun Williams rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I avoided reading any books by the Brontë sisters for many years, after failing to finish Villette, and then being put off further by Charlotte Brontë's well-known remarks about Jane Austen. After coming across an old copy of Jane Eyre I decided it was time to give the sisters another chance. I quite enjoyed Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights, which I read next, I liked less. Then I turned to Anne, not expecting much more than a paler version of her sisters' works.

Instead I find myself reading one of
Mary Harju
Jun 22, 2007 Mary Harju rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loving a rake can have it's downside. Just as for men there's a madonna/whore complex, for women there's a priest/devil complex when it comes to men. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall presents this rake at his worst and gives us a female protagonist, Helen Huntingdon, who's strong enough to overcome his charm and escape from his power. Helen is, in fact, a thoroughly Byronic character in her own right, who turns up in a small town with a hidden history and a mysterious allure that fascinates more than ...more
Dec 22, 2015 Lily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always been curious about Anne Brontë.

[Credit: Hark, a Vagrant!]

I was uncontainably exasperated with Wuthering Heights when I read it for a high school English class. A few years later, I was pleasantly surprised by Jane Eyre, although it's one of those rare cases where an adaptation stayed with me in a way that the book never quite could. I might be unintentionally reading these books in the order in which they appeal to me, or maybe my ability to appreciate the Brontës is growing with ti
For me it was so depressing overall that it could not be a 4 star for enjoyment or for "the message". A worthy one, I must admit, as wives had no decent recourse through law or property dictate during this juncture. Anne could write- but I find her far more preachy from or because of her own "eyes" worldview than her sisters. Perhaps she tended toward the sad sack of the trio? Not that the level of illness involved lent itself to chuckles.

In this particular book she had a depth of characterizati
I actually enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. I usually avoid Bronte/Austen books because the type of writing doesn't really appeal to me. However, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall presented a far more likable story than I expected. I managed to read the majority of it in 2 days, and it's rare I get through such an old book so fast!

I think what really stood out was the voice of Helen Huntingdon. She provide direction and interest to the story, mainly in her narrative in the middle of the b
Feb 09, 2015 Abi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-5
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I have an acute fear of marriage.

Okay so I do have a tendency to relate the works of 18th-19th century female novelists to my life, but hey, is it my fault my community is like 2 centuries behind on the women's liberation thing?

I see a lot of commentary that TWH is largely overlooked as being in the shadow of Jane Eyre. I think I'm going to commit literary blasphemy here and say that I think this is WAY WAY WAY BETTER.

That's no damnation of Jane Eyre anyhow
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Anne Brontë was a British novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. Anne's two novels, written in a sharp and ironic style, are completely different from the romanticism followed by her sisters, Emily Brontë and Charlotte Brontë. She wrote in a realistic, rather than a romantic style. Mainly because the re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was prevented by Char ...more
More about Anne Brontë...

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“But smiles and tears are so alike with me, they are neither of them confined to any particular feelings: I often cry when I am happy, and smile when I am sad.” 343 likes
“I cannot love a man who cannot protect me.” 150 likes
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