Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Originally divided into three volumes, this second published novel by Anne Brontë was released in 1848 under the pseudonym Acton Bell to wild acclaim and was sold out within six weeks.

There were severe vocal critics of this work, however. Did this youngest Brontë sister approve of the dissipation and debauchery woven throughout the storyline - or – was she warning against it? Was it powerfully & deeply crafted or simply… “coarse”?

And - did this quiet living Yorkshire woman intend to openly challenge the prevailing morals of the Victorian Era through protagonist Helen Lawrence HuntingtonunHunHun? Should this novel be considered one of the first feminist novels because of the heroine’s radical overturning of sexual politics?

At some point after publication of the second edition, ladies were warned against reading it, saying that it was not “fit subject matter for the pages of a work… to be obtruded by every circulating library-keeper upon the notice of our sisters, wives, and daughters”. One critic pronounced it “utterly unfit to be put into the hands of girls”…


Am I wrong in telling the gentle ladies and tender young women in our Jane Austen Tea Society to make sure you pick up this next read for our book group? Will I be shunned from all good society?


Mark your calendars --

The next Book Tea will focus on The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë on Saturday – April 9th. So pick up a copy or simply check with your local circulating library-keeper.

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