As a child, Heathcliff was plucked from the streets of Liverpool and taken in by Mr Earnshaw. His actual provenance is unknown, but in Brontë's 1847 novel the boy is variously described as being "dusky" or "a gipsy". One character says he looks like "a little Lascar, or an American or Spanish castaway".
Fascinating. What's a Lascar? It's a 19th-century term for an East Indian sailor.
Right. So he's dark-skinned but he has never been played by a dark-skinned actor. Until now, that is: a new adaptation directed by Andrea Arnold (who won an Oscar for Fish Tank) will star an unknown black actor called James Howson.