Emily Brontë was born on July 30, 1818, in Yorkshire. She and her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, are well known for their novels and poetry which are now considered classics of English literature.
The only novel that Emily wrote before her death at the age of 30 in December 1848 was Wuthering Heights.
Of the Brontë sisters, Emily was the odd one; reserved, unsocial and unusually strong-willed by the standards of her era. Emily and her sisters created worlds when they were young, and read Jonathan Swift, Milton, Blake, and Shelley.
As she grew into a tall and lithe woman, the reclusive Emily continued to write, taught herself German and how to play the piano, and published poetry under the decidedly masculine name of Ellis Bell. Her many attempts at leaving home to attend school and later to teach school ever resulted in a retreat back to the Yorkshire moors where she spent many happy, quiet years.
Wuthering Heights was first published by Emily (as Ellis Bell) in 1847 as two volumes of a three-volume set. Her sister Anne completed the last volume of the tale, Agnes Grey.
Emily’s works received mixed reviews and confused the critics when first published. Wuthering Heights was often condemned for its amorality by most upstanding literary critics, but praised for it’s bold, intense depictions of rather violent and cruel relationships.
Emily Brontë died in December 1848, and was interred in the Church of St. Michael and All Angels family vault in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
In 1850, Charlotte Brontë edited and ensured that Wuthering Heights was published in it’s entirety under Emily’s real name. Even so, many critics at the time believed that it must have been written by someone else, for how could a quiet, reserved woman write such an intense story of cruel passion?
“I don’t know if it be a peculiarity in me, but I am seldom otherwise than happy while watching in the chamber of death, should no frenzied or despairing mourner share the duty with me. I see a repose that neither earth nor hell can break; and I feel an assurance of the endless and shadowless hereafter – the Eternity they have entered – where life is boundless in its duration, and love in its sympathy, and joy in its fullness.” – Wuthering Heights