[BRONTË, Emily (1818-1848) and Anne (1820-1849)]. Wuthering Heights. A Novel. By Ellis Bell. – Agnes Grey. A Novel, by Acton Bell. London: Thomas Cautley Newby, 1847.
Rare first edition of Emily Brontë’s classic novel, one of the greatest and most enduringly popular works in the English language. Volumes 1 and 2 comprise Wuthering Heights, with the supplied volume 3 containing Anne Brontë’s Agnes Grey.
Wuthering Heights draws upon the Gothic and Romantic traditions to create a world fraught with passion, intensity, darkness and the extremes of imaginative possibility. Due in part to its distinct landscape and the strange force of its characters, it ‘has emerged as one of those rare texts, like Frankenstein and Dracula, which has transcended its literary origin to become part of the lexicon of popular culture – the subject of film, song and even comedy. At the same time it has become one of the most written about novels in the language, to the point where the novel’s critical history reads like the history of criticism itself’ (Nestor).
Although both Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were written and accepted for publication before Charlotte had completed Jane Eyre, it was the latter work which would be published first. The immediate and enormous success of Jane Eyre prompted Thomas Cautley Newby to bring forward the release of the present works in order to capitalise on the phenomenon. The exact number of copies printed is unknown, but it is suggested by Charlotte in a letter of 13 September 1850 that the print run of Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey was limited to just 250 copies. Sadleir 350; Wise pp.97-103.
3 volumes, 12mo (vols. 1 & 2: 191 x 118mm; vol. 3: 186 x 115mm). (Occasional faint spots and stains; vol.3 with title and last 2 leaves darkened at corners, closed marginal tear in E3 into bottom line of text, C7 and O5 with neatly repaired marginal tears, lower outer corners lightly thumbed). Contemporary speckled half calf over marbled boards (vols. 1 and 2 rebacked preserving backstrips, lightly rubbed with small loss at spine ends, front free endpaper of vol.1 detached; the supplied vol.3 bound in modern speckled half calf to style); housed in a modern half calf solander box. Provenance: faint contemporary MS notes to O1 in Agnes Grey volume.
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