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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  96,501 ratings  ·  5,350 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
Paperback, 511 pages
Published 1985 by Penguin Classics (first published 1848)
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Jeanine I think you will be able to understand it. If you want to start with a smaller book, a very good one is "Agnes Grey," by Anne Bronte. Another really g…moreI think you will be able to understand it. If you want to start with a smaller book, a very good one is "Agnes Grey," by Anne Bronte. Another really good book, my favorite, is "Villette," by Charlotte Bronte, a wonderful story & romance. Both books are wonderful. One of my favs when I was younger, is a lesser-known book, "Work," by Louisa May Alcott, which is about a young woman's search for meaningful life through work. In those days, it was extremely hard for women to find work, because of the rampant sexism then. I have one bit of advice. Something I did not like to do when I was in high school, was read the introductions to these books. I found them tedious & didn't see the reason for it. Big mistake. Always read the intros. It will give you so much insight into the meanings, usually multiple meanings, of the stories. It makes reading the stories so much more enjoyable. I hope you enjoy these books & many more, too. Here is a link to a list of 20 lesser-known classics, by female writers. I'm familiar with a couple, but will try to read the others, too. :)
Ms C Bruen As well as the experience of watching Branwell's alcoholism and drug addiction close up, Anne also worked as a governess in two different homes. In th…moreAs well as the experience of watching Branwell's alcoholism and drug addiction close up, Anne also worked as a governess in two different homes. In the second, Branwell came to work as well and became intimately involved with the wife of the house, having an affair and all the disgrace that came with that. Anne had been reasonably happy in that position and had to leave because of Branwell's actions. Anne had a more worldly experience of life than either of her sisters, especially Emily. While what she wrote here was only partly from personal witness, Anne knew more of the lives of her so-called betters than might be imagined when looking at the general notion of the sister's lives.

For a book that is almost completely from her own experience, I'd recommend Agnes Grey about a governess and how awful life could be for governesses.(less)

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Jun 21, 2008 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
Ruby Granger
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this once before (I was thirteen and we went to the beach for the day; I read it in a single sitting and didn't end up swimming at all because I loved it so much!). The plot is fast-paced and was just as enjoyable this time around.

The book is written part-epistolary and part-diary. Like Frankenstein, the form is a writing inside of writing inside of writing. This raises so many questions about validity & reliability of the story, especially with regards to the meticulous dialogue... I
Jan 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: CALLING ALL FEMINISTS!

(Find the full sized image here.)

Before we discovered Anne Brontë, some of us fancied Heathcliff. We wanted to fix him, tame him, soothe his tortured soul. Or maybe if you preferred the more mature and experienced man, you craved Mr Rochester. Perhaps you even draped yourself out of your bedroom window on stormy nights, convinced that someone somewhere was calling to you.

Not any more. It's time to ditch those Byronic heroes, everyone. No more 'mad, bad and dangerous to know'; only sober, honest
Henry Avila
Aug 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unknown woman suddenly appears in the dilapidated mansion Wildfell Hall, abandoned for many years by the wealthy family that 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 outsiders, the glo ...more
Helen: [slams and locks the bedroom door on her abusive husband in a ground-breaking proto-feminist statement; insists that his abuse is not her fault; realizes that she can't change him despite the cult of domesticity's insistence to the contrary; refuses to have sex with him after she learns of his affair, denying the law of coverture; leaves him to live independently; pulls a knife on another absolute creep who is trying to grab her]

There's also her response to Mr. Hargrave's overwrought,
"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
Paul Bryant
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Some movies are really pretty bad except for one transcendent performance, Sophie’s Choice for instance. The glittering pallid Meryl Streep is just brilliant whilst the movie itself is a bit of a pain. Same with novels.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a game of three halves. For the first 100 pages the tiresomely earnest Gilbert Markham tells his tale of how he fell in love with the new lady tenant of the crumbling hall and how she drove him crazy with her intense mysteriousness and this is all v
Bravissima, Brontë!

There is a straight logical line leading from the brilliant fiction of Anne Brontë, written in 1847, to Margaret Atwood's equally persuasive The Handmaid's Tale of our own era. Eloquent, erudite, witty women describe what makes patriarchal, Christian society brutally unjust to any woman of feeling and intelligence, and not just in extreme cases, but in its core idea of women's roles and choice(lessness) - their suppressed individual right to self-defined sexuality and their de
The Tenant of the Wildfell Hall is the second novel and my first reading of Anne Bronte. The first thought that came to mind while reading this was why it took me this long to discover her? I was familiar with her more famous sisters Charlotte and Emily but didn't know of her existence until a very recent time!

Anne's writing is far different from that of her sisters. Her approach to writing is more direct. There is no poetic language, no implied romanticism, and less flowery phrases, which is th
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a surprisingly good read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was.

I think when you read a Classic like this you have to immerse yourself in the time when it was written and this one goes back to the mid 1840s, a time when the pace of life was slower, and when there was no Television or social media and a time when snail mail and word of mouth were the facebook and twitter of the time. I think if you have the ability to do this you would love and enjoy this novel as I am sure this was a rocking good
Katie Lumsden
Apr 05, 2016 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.
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
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-owned
*editing this to full 5 stars, as I am liking this more as I think about it days later* Man oh man, I think this is now my second favorite Bronte novel? A seriously underhyped classic, this was truly a pleasure to read. The only thing that holds me back from a full 5 stars is that I STAN Helen on another level and Gilbert was a little too derpy for my tastes, but I am going to be noodling on this one for quite some time. What a statement about women and their work, feminism, and how much people ...more
[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
Bionic Jean
Who is the mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall. Why is she so proud and unapproachable? And why has she chosen to live in such a desolate, forbidding place?

“What have I done? and what will be the end of it?”

Intrigued? Then how about if I say that the great author Charlotte Brontë said that this novel should never have been written, and it would be better for everyone if it never saw the light of day again. Harsh words indeed, from Anne Brontë’s elder sister.

Critics loathed The Tenant of Wildf
Ahmad Sharabiani
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Brontë

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is the second and final novel by the English author Anne Brontë. It was first published in 1848 under the pseudonym Acton Bell.

The novel is framed as a series of letters from Gilbert Markham to his friend about the events connected with his meeting a mysterious young widow, calling herself Helen Graham, who arrives at Wildfell Hall, an Elizabethan mansion which has been empty for many years, with her young son and a servant.

May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With this book Anne has now become my favorite Brontè! Amazing story! Not only is the writing phenomenal but the issues she addresses were truly progressive for the time: feminism, alcoholism, abuse, etc
A must read!
An autobiographical novel that shocked society at the time, it mainly addresses the problems caused by alcoholism and debauchery and the struggle of women to achieve equal rights. Gilbert Markham is deeply attached to Helen, a woman who has a reputation for being immoral and hiding an obscure past, which he always tries to defend even if he does not know the truth. Only over time, Helen gains confidence and ends up revealing her sad past, poorly treated and badly loved by an alcoholic and unfait ...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.
Helene Jeppesen
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
April (Aprilius Maximus)
I really enjoyed this! Not as much as Jane Eyre (which will always be my favourite Brontë novel), but Anne was so ahead of her time with this. We stan a feminist icon!

TW: abusive relationships
Apr 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved so much this book, it was not an easy reading for me, it went very slow in some parts
The characters were very peculiar and interesting, had to concentrate a lot because there are maybe fifty different secondary of them.... so some parts of the book have been read twice to fully understand the connections...
i did not know much about this book before the reading, i was quite surprised to find this psycopathology way of life underlying all the plot, this will surrounds many relations
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Let’s start with some fun facts: One of my most used annotations in regards to Mr Huntingdon was: “the fuck outta here” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Gilbert was: “kill it with fire” and “ew”. One of my most used annotations in regards to Helen was: “ugh” and “can’t relate”. Clearly, I had a good time.

The only reason why I didn’t rate The Tenant of Wildfell Hall one star is the fact that I gave Anne an additional star for good intentions. Yes, I am a generous hoe. The
Oct 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Before writing this review, I re-read my review of Agnes Grey, Anne’s first novel, in which I gave it only 2 stars because I found it too boring. After posting my review, a number of GR friends said I should read this novel, and that I might like it more than her first work. And they were right. I give this novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848; T.C. Newby, London) a solid 3 stars.

The edition I read was a Penguin Classic paperback (1979, 1985) with an Introduction by Winifred Gerin. I am glad
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
I’ve been meaning to read this for years and have finally got round to it. The plot is pretty straightforward. Gilbert Markham is a gentleman farmer and the story is set as a series of letters to his friend. A mysterious woman (Helen Graham, an assumed name) and her young son move into Wildfell Hall, a local and somewhat rundown property. She is rather reclusive and begins to be the subject of local gossip. Over time she mixes with some of her neighbour and Gilbert falls in love with he
May 03, 2010 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.
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
Jun 02, 2009 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
Anne (On semi-hiatus)
This novel surprised me. I have been reading a lot of Victorian literature lately and this was quite a departure. Anne Bronte was a brave woman, writing about matters that Victorian society preferred to keep under wraps and by having a heroine, in the end, do a very modern thing, live life by her own rules and not that of the society in which she lived. In many ways, this is a very modern novel. On almost every page Anne Bronte holds a mirror up to Victorian society and in the end, shows that
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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

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