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Pioneer Home Museum, copy of a novel from 1899

Wuthering Heights is a classic novel of love, revenge, and generational trauma written by Emily Brontë.
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Wuthering Heights is a classic novel of love, revenge, and generational trauma written by Emily Brontë. The Brontë sisters are known for a variety of works including Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey, however, Wuthering Heights may be the most shocking of them all. The Brontë sisters, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, as well as their brother, Patrick Branwell, were of Celtic lineage on their father’s side. Emily, the middle sister, was born in Thornton, Yorkshire on July 30, 1818. She grew up extremely quiet and the most reserved of her sisters. Their mother died in 1821 so the sisters would spend much of their childhood years using their imagination to make up islands that they would govern. 

Although the family was not extremely educated, it was known that the three sisters were brilliant writers. In 1845, Charlotte discovered a book of Emily’s poetry that had been in the works for ten years and had not yet been published. Charlotte was able to convince Emily of her talent, and they, along with Anne published a book of poetry called “Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell.” 

The women used these male pseudonyms for several reasons: first, they wanted to avoid publicity. Second, their poems were not especially feminine or typical of women at the time. They also knew that critics were extremely harsh on female authors and wanted to avoid this issue altogether. 

Together, the sisters also wrote a variety of novels. Emily’s only book, Wuthering Heights, was published in 1846 but was not successful. Critics called it savage and animal-like and it did not become recognized for the work of brilliance it was until after Emily’s death. 

Wuthering Heights describes the life of Heathcliff, an orphan boy who has been brought to live with the Earnshaw family at Wuthering Heights. He falls in love with one of the children, Catherine, but grows bitter towards her and the rest of the family when she marries Edgar Linton of Thrushcross Grange. Over time, Heathcliff plans his revenge on both the Earnshaw and Linton family and aims to gain control over both households, all while his obsession with Catherine grows. 

After Wuthering Heights was published, Emily fell ill and died soon after on December 19, 1848 of tuberculosis. Her work is now highly regarded with much more praise than it originally earned. The Virden Pioneer Home Museum holds a copy of this novel from 1899 along with other works by the Brontë sisters. Although the museum is currently closed, visitors and residents of Virden should email or call The Virden Pioneer Home Museum with any queries regarding the museum’s novel collection. 

If you are looking to make a donation towards the museum’s Endowment Fund so we can continue to bring you Virden’s local history, please feel welcome to call 204-748-1659 or email us at virden­_pioneer­_home@mymts.net. It is more important than ever to support Virden’s local businesses. The museum staff looks forward to seeing you all in person soon. 

By Museum Co-ordinator Madeline Peters