1847 Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte

1847 Wuthering Heights: Emily Bronte

As well as the bicentenary of the publication of Frankenstein, 2018 is the 200thanniversary of the birth of Emily Bronte (1818-1848), the author of Wuthering Heights. The novel caused great controversy on its publication, and the energy and passion of the writing, together with bleak, threatening setting of the story on the Yorkshire moors left many commentators confused. Critics were quite divided about the book. Many asserted that only a man could have written such a raw and powerful story about lust, passion and selfishness!

The first edition of Wuthering Heights was published by Thomas Cautley Newby in 1847 as the first two volumes of a three-volume publication, with Anne Bronte’s short novel Agnes Grey as the third volume. The author’s names were given as Ellis Bell and Acton Bell, respectively.

The true name of the author did not appear on the title page of the second English edition of Wuthering Heights, which was published in 1850, but this edition did include a biographical note by Charlotte Bronte, as Currer Bell, in which the origin of the sisters’ pseudonyms was explained. This may have been prompted by the publication of the first American edition of Wuthering Heights by Harper & Brothers in 1848 as “by the author of Jane Eyre”, which was incorrect of course, as Jane Eyre had been written by Charlotte Bronte, not Emily Bronte.

Book collectors are very happy to own any of the editions mentioned above, but all are rare and expensive. Another possibility for collectors is the first edition published in English in Europe by Bernard Tauchnitz in 1851, as this tends to be less expensive.

As a rough guide to prices, the English first edition (1847) sells for more than $20,000, the American first edition (1848) for around $10,000, the English second edition (1850) for around $5000 and the Tauchnitz edition (1851) for around $2000.

The title page of the first English edition is shown here.

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