Social, political and cultural context

These books offer good historical surveys of the period in which Emily Brontë was writing:

  • Asa Briggs, The Age of Improvement. London: Longman 1959.
  • Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Capital, 1848-1975. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1975.
  • F. M. L. Thompson, The Rise of Respectable Society. A Social History of Victorian Britain. 1830-1900. London: Fontana, 1988.

General surveys of various aspects of the literary and intellectual history of the period:

  • Philip Davis, The Victorians. The Oxford English Literary History 1830-1880. Volume 8. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Jerome H. Buckley, The Victorian Temper: a Study in Literary Culture London: Cass, 1966.
  • Robin Gilmour, The Victorian Period. The Intellectual and Cultural Context of English Literature 1830-1890. London: Longman, 1993.
  • William F. Houghton, The Victorian Frame of Mind 1830-1870, London: Yale University Press, 1957.
  • Michael Wheeler, English Fiction of the Victorian Period. 1830-1890. London: Longman, 1985.

An excellent general discussion of the world of Victorian publishing:

  • John Sutherland Victorian Novelists and Publishers. London: Athlone Press, 1976.
  • Classics of the new feminist literary history of the 1970 and 1980s:
  • Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984.
  • Elaine Showalter, A Literature of their Own. Princeton University Press, 1977. 

Works by Emily Brontë and her sisters

The following annotated editions of the novel are currently available:

  • Wuthering Heights. Ed. Pauline Nestor. London: Penguin Classics, 2003. 
  • Wuthering Heights. Ed. John S Whitley. Ware: Wordsworth Classics, 1992.
  • Wuthering Heights. Ed. Helen Small. Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2009.

The other completed novels by the Brontë sisters are:

  • Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre, 1847, Shirley, 1850, Villette, 1853
  • Anne Brontë, Agnes Grey, 1847, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, 1848

All are widely available in good editions in such paperback series as Everyman, Penguin Classics, Oxford World Classics and Wordsworth Classics. 

All three sisters wrote poetry and there are several paperback selections in print.

General guides to the Brontës

  • Heather Glen (ed), The Cambridge Companion to the Brontës. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Patricia Ingham, Authors in Context: the Brontës. Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2006. (Another useful and wide-ranging book, which makes an excellent starting-point for study.)


  • Juliet Barker, The Brontës. London: Phoenix, 2001. (An exhaustive 1000+ page study which demolishes many myths and includes some interesting new material.)
  • Edward Chitham, A life of Emily Brontë. London: Amberley, 2010. (A short and readable biography.)

Critical works on Emily Brontë

  • Wendy Craik, The Brontë Novels. London: Methuen, 1968. (An excellent and helpful introductory study.)
  • Terry Eagleton, Myths of Power. A Marxist Study of the Brontës. London: Macmillan, 1975. (Pioneering Marxist reading of the sisters’ novels.)
  • Inga-Stina Ewbank, Their Proper Sphere: A Study of the Brontë Sisters as Early-Victorian Female Novelists. London: Edward Arnold, 1966. (A very sound contextual examination.)
  • Lucasta Miller, The Brontë Myth. London: Vintage, 2002. (An entertaining and perceptive history of the development of the sisters’ reception and reputation.)
  • Marianne Thormahlen, The Brontës and Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  • Marianne Thormahlen, The Brontës and Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. (Full-length studies of crucial dimensions of the sisters’ lives and works.)
  • Raymond Williams, The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence. London: Chatto & Windus, 1970. (Classic general account of the novel in its 1840s context.)

Criticism of Wuthering Heights 

Most of the books listed in the previous section have chapters or sections on Wuthering Heights easily found from the contents page or the index. Good starting-points for exploring the variety of critical approaches to the novel are:

  • Patsy Stoneman (ed), Wuthering Heights (New Casebooks). London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1993.
  • Miriam Allott (ed)., Emily Brontë: Wuthering Heights: A Casebook. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1992.

As well as their useful booklists, these guides include a survey of the history of the critical reaction to the novel since it was published.

Exploring the Gothic

There is a growing range of works on Gothic literature. The following provide a good start:

  • C. Bloom (ed), Gothic Horror: A Reader’s Guide. London: Macmillan (1998)
  • S. Gilbert & S. Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the C19 Literary Imagination. Yale: Yale University Press (1979)
  • M. Kilgour, The Rise of the Gothic Novel. London: Routledge (1995)
  • D. Stevens, The Gothic Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2000)
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