Introduced by Patti Smith
Illustrated by Rovina Cai
Wuthering Heights defies easy classification and stands alone as a uniquely powerful novel that transcends genres. Patti Smith, the singer-songwriter and poet, has written a new, lyrical introduction to this edition, in which she sums up Emily Brontë’s complex gifts.
Be with me always – take any form – drive me mad!
Lockwood is an unwanted guest, forced by a snowstorm to pass the night at the lonely and inhospitable house of Wuthering Heights. A child’s ghost pleads at the window to be let in; a waif who has wandered the moor for 20 years. Lockwood’s screams bring the fierce and brooding master of the house, Heathcliff, who is at first angry, and then, startlingly, sobs and begs for the ghost to return.
This is the unforgettable opening to a passionate love story, a haunting Gothic tale, a stark depiction of rural isolation and cruelty …
'This is great English Literature'
‘Her untied mind did not create a neat package. In the writing of Wuthering Heights she did not give what was wanted; she gave what she had.’
Certainly Brontë’s contemporaries were not sure the book was what they wanted – especially when they discovered the author was a woman. In 1848, Graham’s Lady’s and Gentleman’s Magazine gasped that it was ‘a compound of vulgar depravity and unnatural horrors’. Yet even its detractors could not help but acknowledge the book’s raw power and tumultuous energy. When Cathy cries out, ‘My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath – a source of little visible delight, but necessary ... I am Heathcliff!’, the reader thrills in response. And we shudder when Heathcliff, hearing of Cathy’s death, curses her: ‘May you not rest, as long as I am living! You said I killed you – haunt me, then!’
The novel has inspired many film-makers, musicians and artists over the years. This edition contains nine evocative illustrations from the artist Rovina Cai. She captures the swirling moorland air that blows through the book, and merges, just as the novel does, past with present, ghosts with the living. They are a beautiful, fittingly haunting accompaniment to an unforgettable story.
An extract from the introduction to Wuthering Heights by the acclaimed musician and poet
Through the endless winter of 1847 the Brontë sisters paced, sparred and provoked one another. They had written since childhood; a form of comradely self-entertainment, inventing scandalous histories, warring countries, dueling kings – their own game of thrones. At the ink-stained table, scarred in the center with a candle-burn the size of a small hand, each conceived of her heroine – drawing from the sap of their particular situations. Anne offered her own double with the gentle, empathetic Agnes Grey. In an act of proud defiance, Charlotte created the small, plain and beloved Jane Eyre. Agnes Grey and Jane Eyre each would be obliged to overcome numerous trials before securing constant and fulfilling love-on-earth by book’s end.
And what hath Emily wrought? No such earned splendor. She drew from her restive pulse and unleashed the unquiet apparition of Catherine Earnshaw, whose pale fingers reached from the grave as if to paralyze the breath of her soul’s predestined mate. Those who are not passionate are pallid, and those languishing from passion develop a color of their own – that of death. Charlotte and Anne’s protagonists sought redemption, equilibrium. Emily courted no such outcomes. She created a heroine spawned from interesting winds, reflecting her own emotional range, from inner waywardness to the deep restraint of self-deprivation. Emily was like a small volcano, dormant yet restlessly bubbling, and erupting through the words and actions of her chosen characters. She sternly adhered to her own sense of morality from which she would not waver, not even to appease her extremely vexed sisters. Snipping the chains of convention, Wuthering Heights was declared uniquely powerful, yet so savage and morally repellent that it was to plunge Ellis Bell, like it or not, into the public forum.
Emily Brontë (1818–48) grew up in the parsonage at Haworth, Yorkshire, the fifth of six siblings. Her father was an impoverished parson, and, after their mother’s death when Emily was three, the children were brought up with the help of their aunt. After a brief spell at a charitable school for clergymen’s daughters – where Emily’s two eldest sisters contracted the tuberculosis they died from in 1825 – the remaining Brontë siblings, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne, were educated at home. An attempt at seventeen to attend the school where Charlotte was teaching, Roe Head, ended in illness; Emily returned home and Anne took her place at school. After this point, Emily began more seriously to compose and collect her poetry; aside from a stint in 1842 at a school in Brussels, she did not return to formal education. Writing under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell, Charlotte, Emily and Anne published Poems at their own expense in 1846; though they sold only two copies, the sisters were not discouraged. Emily’s Wuthering Heights was published in 1847, as part of a three-volume set with Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey, in the hope that the success of Jane Eyre (published by itself two months earlier) would encourage readers to try the other ‘Bell’ novels. But sales of Wuthering Heights were poor, and the novel was treated with hostility until Swinburne’s championing of both Emily’s novel and poems began to change critics’ views. Emily did not live to see her literary reputation improve; she died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty.
Patti Smith is a writer, performer and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary mergence of poetry and rock. Her seminal album Horses (1975) has been hailed as one of the top 100 albums of all time. Her books include Witt, Babel, Coral Sea, Woolgathering and Auguries of Innocence. Her acclaimed memoir, Just Kids, chronicling her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, was awarded the 2010 National Book Award. In 2005 the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the prestigious title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honour awarded to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2013 Smith was awarded the Katharine Hepburn Medal, which recognises women whose lives, work and contributions embody the kind of drive and accomplishment achieved by the highly respected actress. Smith resides in New York City.
Rovina Cai is an Australian illustrator currently based in the United States. She studied illustration in the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay programme at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her work is a combination of graphite drawing and digital colouring, and she delights in creating poetic images that evoke a sense of intrigue and mystery. Rovina’s work has been featured in publications such as Spectrum Fantastic Art, American Illustration and Communication Arts.
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Review by AbbyDaddy on 11th Apr 2015
"To start with, Patti Smith's introduction makes buying the book almost worth it on its own - she really seems to "get" Emily Bronte's story. You likely know the story so I have no need to comment on i..." [read more]
Review by Shaun2307 on 4th Jan 2015
"I have waited many years for providence to deliver into my hands an edition of 'Wuthering Heights' worthy of Emily Brontë's exquisite prose: only the Folio Society could ever do this. The text, ill..." [read more]
Review by PAULALOUD on 1st Nov 2014
"This is a GORGEOUS edition of the Emily Bronte (nom de plum Ellis Bell) classic. Haunting and controversial, yet gripping. The perfect read for Halloween. I read it in 3 sittings. Heathcliff and Ca..." [read more]