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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  46,726 ratings  ·  1,823 reviews
An imprudent and bitterly unhappy marriage, followed by the wife's departure and determined bid for freedom.

Set in the rakish Regency society and written during the 1840s when the oppression of women was at its height, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is extraordinary for its impassioned and bold treatment of the issue of women's equality. 'The slamming of Helen's bedroom door
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Paperback, 511 pages
Published 1985 by Penguin Classics (first published 1848)
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Ayana Prende Absolutely! If you're doing fine with Jane Eyre, you'll have no trouble with Tenant - and I highly recommend it. IMO, it's the best of the Bronte…moreAbsolutely! If you're doing fine with Jane Eyre, you'll have no trouble with Tenant - and I highly recommend it. IMO, it's the best of the Bronte sisters' novels. (less)

Community Reviews

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Amy
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
Samadrita
"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
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K.D. Absolutely
May 09, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Sarah
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.
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Margaret
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
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
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
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Nicole~
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
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Aubrey
4.9/5
I would not send a poor girl into the world unarmed against her foes, and ignorant of the snares that beset her path; nor would I watch and guard her, till, deprived of self-respect and self-reliance, she lost the power, or the will, to watch and guard herself; —and as for my son — if I thought he would grow up to be what you call a man of the world — one that has “seen life,” and glories in his experience, even though he should so far profit by it, as to sober down, at length, into a usef
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Bethany
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
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Whitaker
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
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C.A.
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
Tatiana
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
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Sunday

(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
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Joseph
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
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Alun Williams

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
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Barry Pierce
Sep 22, 2013 Barry Pierce rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Mary Harju
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
Misfit
This is a very different novel from the other of Anne Bronte's that I've read, Agnes Grey. The story is told mostly from the first person viewpoint of Gilbert Markham as he and his fellow villagers meet the mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall, the widowed Mrs. Graham, who has a bit of a mystery about her and her young son.

As feelings grow between the two main characters, the story is shifted to the viewpoint of Mrs. Graham as retold through a diary she wrote, and about her life married to an
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Amy
I adored 'The Tenant of Wildfell Hall'. To me, it combined the best bits of 'Jane Eyre' and 'Wuthering Heights' and smashed them together in a wonderful story of intrigue, at the heart of which Helen Lawrence.

Helen is a fascinating character, who attracts the attention of Gabriel Markham who serves a similar role of Lockwood in 'Wuthering Heights', in that Helen's backstory is told with the help of him; when he obtains her diaries. The main difference is probably that Markham plays a more intera
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Michael
I thought I would read Anne Brontë before reading Charlotte Brontë; Why? Because I didn’t want to go with the most popular of the three; before exploring Anne and Emily. I loved Wuthering Heights for its unexpected story, with The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, I was secretly hoping from more of that. But instead I was presented with a book that while it with very much a Victorian novel; it did push topics, like Divorce, Abuse, Alcoholism, Feminism, Adultery and many more issues to do with morels.

I’v
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Irina
Apr 07, 2012 Irina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Irina by: Daiana
Shelves: english

“Was first published in June 1848 to imediate succes. Its bold treatament of the subject of women’s equality, at a time when convention dictated submissiveness, meant that it has often been hailed as the first sustained feminist novel.”

I love Bronte sisters. Firstly, I read Wuthering Heights and then, after 3 years, I moved on to the secondly book of Bronte’s and now I really don’t know why I’ve waited so long.
This was the first book I’ve read in english so I suppose this is why I’m considering
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El
So I read Charlotte's Jane Eyre, and it was pretty okay, though it took a second reading years later to fully appreciate it; even after the second reading I was still left feeling a little bleh about the whole thing. I read Emily's Wuthering Heights and was so irate that I refused to even read it again. I had this impression that the Brontes weren't all they were cracked up to be (sorta like how I feel about Jane Austen as well); good enough, but not WONDERFUL, and that their personal lives were ...more
Abi
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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S.
Anne is the neglected Brontë, overshadowed by her famous sisters. I never gave much thought to reading her until #readwomen2014 came along and I made a rough list of writers to try. I am so glad. I loved this book. It’s like an action movie of the emotions, with some passionate exaltation or desperate abyss achieved on every page.

Instead of a car chase there is taking a walk hoping the beloved will appear.
Instead of a gang fight there is a man ordering the servants to confiscate a woman’s pain
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Andrea (Catsos Person) is a Compulsive eBook Hoarder
To date I've read:

Emily's "Wuthering Heights"

Charlotte's "Villette" and

Anne's "Agnes Grey" and Tenant of Wildfell Hall

AB is my favorite Bronte. I like the social commentary of these two books and their readability.

ABs social commentary is not at all subtle. She "puts it right out there" and doesn't try to soft pedal the truth.

I found these two books by AB more readable than those of her sister's works that I have read this far.

Also, this Project Gutenberg edition had an introduction that hinted
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Yara
When we think of the name “Brontë”, Anne is never the first sister to come to mind. Many of us will have read either Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre at some point in our lives, maybe even both, but who among you could name one of Anne’s books (before seeing this review)? It seems that that history has delegated her to the position of “the other one,” even though her first novel, Agnes Grey, was well-received and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall had been an instant success; it quickly outsold Emily’s W ...more
Phil
This book was a surprise. I'd never read any of Anne Brontë's work before, and the edition I read was apologetic about the book they were presenting to the reader: saying there the merit of reading was to understand more about her better sisters, Charlotte and Emily. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find a novel here every bit as good as Wuthering Heights and, to my mind, better than Jane Eyre. In Helen Graham, Anne gives us a more modern heroine than either of her sisters gives us, and it' ...more
Roberta
Romanzo stupendo che racconta la storia di Helen, una donna forte, di carattere, che osa sfidare le convenzioni, confidando nel suo stesso senso di onestà e ricordando sempre quanto è dovuto al nostro Creatore (io non sono religiosa, ma a mio avviso è molto interessante leggere di quanto la fede sia importante per Helen, che comunque la vive in modo dialettico e non passivo, come del resto la stessa autrice - per questo aspetto ringrazio tantissimo le note della mia edizione). La sua stabilità e ...more
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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...
Agnes Grey The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Agnes Grey The Works of the Brontë Sisters The Complete Works of the Bronte Sisters The Brontës (Everyman's Poetry Series)

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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.” 304 likes
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