Enigmatic Emily: Reassessing Emily Bronte at 200
The year 2018 marks the bicentenary of Emily Brontë’s birth, one of nineteenth century’s most enigmatic and imaginative women writers. Although her greatest claim to fame still rests upon her solo novel Wuthering Heights – a grand saga of passion enacted against the timeless Moors – her poetry also reveals a powerful inner world of imaginative and spiritual bonding with the Supreme Being. Emily and her siblings were an exclusive band who were mostly unschooled, made very few friends in the village, their playgrounds being the open moors at the back of their home and their own vivid imaginations. Emily a literary prodigy from a very young age collaborated with her sister Anne in composing poetry and stories for their imaginary world of Gondal, though few of these details now survive, it may be surmised that Emily never abandoned her imaginary world. Reclusive by nature she never wished to give up her nom de plume, Ellis Bell. Beyond the family she had almost no friends, none of her correspondences survive and yet it is possible to interpret that she blended reality and fantasy in equal measure, and despite little interaction with the outside world her characters yet were sharply observed and delineated. The main themes we may observe in the work of Emily and of her sisters, Charlotte and Anne, are rather fierce, bold and passionate – hence unconventional and not exactly welcome in the Victorian England they lived in. It suggests that the sisters were not mere victims of their tragic lives but also strong and intelligent women. However, women were not supposed to be passionate and brave back then, they were not expected to have desires for equality and adventure, and therefore the novels of the Brontë sisters received mixed responses – often accepted with confusion and mistrust by both men and women. At a English Literature department of a Women’s University we, thus, celebrate the creative genius that Emily Brontë was. By focusing on the powerful creative and imaginative force embodied by this nineteenth century woman writer, which has immortalized her and given her single novel a place in the canon, we seek to reassess her relevance after two hundred years. This resonates with our attempt to continuously celebrate female intellectual effort and achievement in every form and to instill courage in women to venture out in the present day world – which after all provides vistas and opportunities denied to Victorian women writers and intellectuals.
We are bringing out an edited volume of essays based on a symposium held earlier this year. We have space for accommodating a few more well-researched papers on areas overlooked or untouched
Brontë Lives and Myths
Emily Brontë and Victorian Female Authorship
Emily Brontë and Her Influence
Emily Brontë and Religion