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Tenant of Wildfell Hall

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A novel by A. Brontë, published 1848.

The narrator, Gilbert Markham, a young farmer, falls in love with Helen Graham, a young widow newly arrived in the neighbourhood with her son Arthur. Her youth, beauty, and seclusion, and her mysterious relationship with her landlord Lawrence, gives rise to local gossip. Markham violently assaults Lawrence, and Helen, distressed at the threatened rupture of their friendship, reveals to him that she had married Arthur Huntingdon who after a period of initial happiness had relapsed into a life of drinking, debauchery, and infidelity. She had fled, to protect her child, to Wildfell Hall, provided for her by Lawrence, who is in fact her brother. Shortly after the revelation Helen returns to nurse her husband through an illness which is fatal and the way is left clear for Markham successfully to renew his suit. In her ‘Biographical Notice’ (1850) Charlotte Brontë suggested that the portrait of the dissolute Huntingdon was based on their brother Branwell.

Reference entries

Anne Brontë (1820—1849) novelist and poet