Oscar Wilde once described a second marriage as “the triumph of hope over experience”, and these words are only too true in the case of Helen Huntingdon, heroine of Anne Brontë’s powerful novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Helen’s first marriage is miserable, violent and lonely, but she is a strong heroine who emerges from the experience wiser and able to make a better choice. Her second love affair is markedly different from her first.
This was a novel that shocked the Victorian reading public – “coarse”, “brutal” and “morbid, revelling in scenes of debauchery”, were just some of the insults thrown at it. Critics felt she had focused on morbid and disagreeable subjects, and that her book should not be read by young females. However, the novel also excited readers and within a month of publication, a second edition was being prepared. I think it is a remarkably modern novel and still highly relevant today.
Here are some convenient links for Anne Brontë & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, narrated by Alex Jennings, Jenny Agutter
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë, 1996 TV ADAPTATION on DVD
Agnes Gray by Anne Brontë
The Brontës by Juliet Barker
Anne Brontë: A Biography by Winifred Gérin
In Search of Anne Brontë by Nick Holland
Take Courage: Anne Brontë and the Art of Life by Samantha Ellis
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