Emily Brontë was born 195 years ago today. In her honor, we bring you New Republic associate editor Robert Morss Lovett's 1928 take on Emily, her sisters, and her legacy.
As a biographer of Emily Brontë, Miss Wilson presents herself with certain indubitable credentials. A Yorkshire woman with memories of a childhood on the moors, she is prepared to enter into the environment of her heroine. As a novelist who has explored the obscure depths of the unconscious, she finds dues everywhere to the labyrinthine ways of personality. Her method is to reconstruct Emily’s experience by psychoanalysis from the themes and material of her poetry and fiction. Now it may be that Emily as a child was shut up in a room associated with death and, haunted by ghosts and phantoms, fell into a fit. This may be the origin of the recurring prison theme in her poetry; and Charlotte may have recalled the originating episode in Jane Eyre. Again, it may be that Emily suffered from jealousy of Branwell's high place in the family, and “solaced her jealousy with contemplation of the unrelieved blackness of her future, in contrast to the unrelieved brilliance of his”; that “in secret, in imagination she began to foster and love a dark soul in herself, a dark thing grew and grew upon her and ultimately possessed her, body and soul” and became Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Read more: robert-morss-lovett-emily-and-her-sisters-