Combining a sensational story of a man’s physical and moral decline through alcohol, a study of marital breakdown, a disquisition on the care and upbringing of children, and a hard-hitting critique of the position of women in Victorian society, this passionate tale of betrayal is set within a stern moral framework tempered by Anne Brontë’s optimistic belief in universal redemption. Drawing on her first-hand experiences with her brother Branwell, Brontë’s novel scandalized contemporary readers and it still retains its power to shock.
Below, Josephine McDonagh, who has written the introduction to the Oxford World’s Classics edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, discusses the novel and its reception in a series of podcasts recorded by Podularity.
– On Anne’s life and the imaginative world she and her siblings inhabited.
– Was Anne disappointed in love?
– How Anne approached the themes of women, marriage, and masculinity that also preoccupied her sisters.
– How Anne structured her narrative and how the novel came to called ‘the longest letter in English literature’.
– What it means to be a man in the novel.
– How the book was received.
Listen to more Oxford World’s Classics audio guides