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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Anne Bronte , Herbert Rosengarten , Josephine McDonagh
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 April 2008 Oxford World's Classics
'he looked up wistfully in my face, and gravely asked - "Mamma, why are you so wicked?"'

The mysterious new tenant of Wildfell Hall has a dark secret. But as the captivated Gilbert Markham will discover, it is not the story circulating among local gossips. Living under an assumed name, 'Helen Graham' is the estranged wife of a dissolute rake, desperate to protect her son from his destructive influence. Her diary entries reveal the shocking world of debauchery and cruelty from which she has fled. 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. It still retains its power to shock.

ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

Frequently Bought Together

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Oxford World's Classics) + Villette (Wordsworth Classics) + Agnes Grey (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199207550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199207558
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.1 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"It is particularly gratifying to have a definitive library edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall."--Review of English Studies --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Book Description

'Frighteningly up-to-date tale of single motherhood and wife-battering' Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very under-rated work 10 Mar 2002
Anne Brontė seems to have been overshadowed by her two sisters. Hardly surprising, but this is a great work in itself and should not be ignored. Her sister Charlotte did not like it much, she said it was unworthy of publication - but of course, she said the same about Jane Austen's works (whose style is similar to Anne's).
It traces, with remarkable frankness, the collapse of a woman's marriage to an abusive husband (who is loosely based on Brontė's brother Branwell), and her escape from him. The characters have odd and endearing foibles, and one never loses interest as the book progresses.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Travesty 13 Feb 2007
By Huggy
Don't let my title fool you. What I mean is, it is a travesty Anne Bronte does not have the same literary fame as her sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Indeed both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights are classics but so is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and should be up there among them.

The reason this novel is not placed on the same pedestal as the other two is because of the subject matter. In the early 19th century a woman's job as a wife was to pander to her husband's every need. If he was a drunk or an abuser so be it, all she should do is make the most of it. Anne had very different ideas, ideas which are more late 20th century than early 19th century. To leave your husband was in those times unthinkable. To write about alcohol abuse was even more of a taboo. In the preface to Wuthering Heights/Agnes Grey Charlotte wrote that the subject matter in this book was unsuitable and a mistake. Because Charlotte did not think much of it she did not push for its acceptance in the mainstream after Anne's very early death. That was a mistake. There are also rumours Charlotte destroyed a second manuscript of Emily's. Another mistake if it is true.

Personally I think it is better written and formulated than Jane Eyre. It's most certainly better written than Wuthering Heights. I think Anne Bronte should be elevated to the heights (no pun intended) of Charlotte, Emily, Jane Austen et al. Read this and you will not be disappointed.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If only she could have written more. 14 Jan 2009
By Alun Williams VINE VOICE
I avoided reading any books by the Brontė sisters for many years, after failing to finish Villette, and then being put off further by Charlotte Brontė's well-known remarks about Jane Austen. After coming across an old copy of Jane Eyre I decided it was time to give the sisters another chance. I quite enjoyed Jane Eyre; Wuthering Heights, which I read next, I liked less. Then I turned to Anne, not expecting much more than a paler version of her sisters' works.

Instead I find myself reading one of the most powerful English 19th century novels there can be, reminiscent of Dickens in its exposure of the hypocrisies and wrongs of society, but with shock and anger against these expressed not by the author, but aroused in the reader by Anne's unsparing descriptions of events.

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" is the story of a mysterious woman, Helen Graham, apparently a young widow with a child, and the development, after initial suspicion on her part, of friendship and finally love for a local farmer named Gilbert Markham. But, much more darkly, it is the story of a woman who learns the real nature of her adulterous husband, as he gradually descends into neglect and then abuse (of both her and their child), and is ravaged by alcoholism.

Few men of the time would have dared to write so frankly on such topics, and for a woman to have done so, especially one of Anne's background, is verging on the heroic, and must be counted a remarkable achievement.

At times the heroine, Helen, may strike some readers as pious or priggish - she reminded me of Fanny Price in Mansfield Park - and the author's firmly expressed Christian beliefs may also put some off. But nobody can fail to admire Helen's courage, endurance, and determination to protect her son.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good tale with a point 18 Mar 2008
I've seen several reviewers say that Anne Bronte's Tenant of Wildfell hall would never reach the status of the her sister's most famous works. I beg to differ. Her novel was simply written before its time.

The tale is about more than the disintegration of a marriage or about alcoholism. It's a startling portrayal of a man exclusively devoted to his own pleasure and amusement. Such people are often fun to be around and make the life of the party. Ultimately, they cannot be depended upon and make terrible spouses and parents as Helen discovered.

There was one scene I found particularly insightful. It is near the beginning when Helen is at a social gathering at Gilbert Markham's. When the company hears her statement that she wanted her son to hate drinking, they immediately go into a defence of drinking, completely unaware of what she had fled from. Their arguments sounded almost sinister to me since I already knew from reading the dustwrapper that her husband was an alcoholic.

The Collector's Library edition is the best one out there. Small and schleppable like a paperback but sturdy and beautifully made.

A very worthy and well-crafted tale from Anne Bronte. I will read it again.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good 22 Nov 2007
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Anne is often classed as the least talented of the Bronte sisters. In this book certainly, she can however hold her head up. She, like her sisters, takes a subject which was considered unacceptable for women to write about and turns it into a fantastically complex and richly rewarding novel.
Here she deals with the subject of alcoholism and its detrimental effects on a family. The knowledge of this is often supposed to come from her own family's dealings with their alcoholic and drug addicted brother, Branwell Bronte, and it is certain that she does have some experience of such issues, wherever they come from, because she writes with a passion and humanity that ring true.
The story is interesting because it deals with what happens to a woman who marries a man who is no good. In Victorian times there were very limited options for women of the middle classes. If they didn't marry they were forced to endure life as either a governess or a dependent of more affluent members of their family. Marriage was the best of a bad bunch, but what to do when that marriage is a living hell and you have few means of escape.
Here, the heroine, Helen, escapes from her rakehell husband for the sake of her young son, and lives a life of isolation in the country. Her burgeoning friendship and love for Gilbert Markham turns her carefully sought sanctuary upside down and puts her in an even more difficult position than previously.
This is realistic, well plotted and is incredibly suspenseful. You feel for the characters and their difficulties. If they follow their natural instincts they will be forced to break away from the society that both cocoons and imprisons them. It is this dilemma which forms the axis of the tension within the book. Great stuff.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte
I was minded to write a review of this after reading Wuthering Heights and being unimpressed. All I found myself doing when reading that was comparing it unfavourably to this, the... Read more
Published 4 days ago by RachelWalker
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent value
I chose this rating as the book did not diappoint me in any way. It was in excellent condition, arrived within the promised period and was an edition with a lot of useful... Read more
Published 27 days ago by Dr. P M Hartley
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!
A very dark, very powerful read. Totally gripping from the outset, as you are drawn into the characters' lives. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lynn Harvey
5.0 out of 5 stars Best read ever!
I read this book as a part of my university reading. I am so glad this book was on my reading list! Anne Brontė's work is most definitely underrated in comparison to her sisters. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Tobchipbob
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing book.
This is most certainly the best book I have read in a long time. I would recommend it to all.
Published 4 months ago by Joshua Riddick
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting glimpse into life at that time.
I liked the story because it showed how a woman in Victorian times could defend herself in a bad situation. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Olivia and Eithne church
4.0 out of 5 stars book
wordsworth classics are just what you want and at a affordable price. i would recommend to all of all ages
Published 8 months ago by teresa
4.0 out of 5 stars good
It took a while to get into her flowery way of talking,but once I got that,thoroughly enjoyed the book. It keeps you interested all the way.
Published 8 months ago by Cookie D
5.0 out of 5 stars wish she had written more...
It is my favourite book by the Bronte's sister.
Although I think Wuthering Height is well written, with all the time shifting... Read more
Published 8 months ago by catie
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant classic from the 1800's
Anything written by Anne Bronte is classic. If you're expecting Stephen King or John Grisham, you'll be disappointed. Read more
Published 9 months ago by AM Reviews
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