These heart-soaring tales of romance and tragedy are widely considered four of the finest novels in English literature.
Wuthering Heights is an immortal story of love and obsession on the stormy Yorkshire moors. The fate of the Earnshaw family is forever changed when they adopt a dark-skinned orphan boy named Heathcliff. As the years pass, Heathcliff and young Catherine Earnshaw fall deeply in love, but their passion cannot survive the pressures of society and the black force of jealousy. Driven away by a broken heart, Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights only to return years later, bent on the cruelest kind of revenge.
Pride and Prejudice is a classic comedy of manners and an enduring romance. In a remote Hertfordshire village, Jane Bennet attracts the attentions of a young gentleman named Charles Bingley, but his good friend Mr. Darcy disapproves of the match. Elizabeth Bennet, always eager to defend her sweet-natured sister, detests the prideful Mr. Darcy, even when he asks for her hand in marriage. But when a chance encounter reunites the combative couple, Elizabeth realizes that her prejudices have been standing in the way of her heart’s true desire.
Far from the Madding Crowd is a love story wrapped in the cloak of tragedy. Shortly after the spirited, impulsive, and beautiful Bathsheba Everdene arrives in Wessex, she saves the life of a young shepherd. When he asks for her hand in marriage, Bathsheba refuses; she cannot sacrifice her independence for a man she does not love. Years later and now a wealthy woman, Bathsheba falls for a dashing sergeant and makes a fateful decision that brings long-buried secrets to the fore.
Jane Eyre shines a brilliant light into the dark corners of Victorian society. Born to a good family but with no wealth of her own, Jane Eyre lives first with her uncle and then in a punitive boarding school for girls. When she becomes governess of Thornfield Hall, the young orphan feels at home for the first time in her life. She soon falls in love with Edward Rochester, master of the house, but just when it seems her luck has finally changed, Jane discovers the secret of the attic—a terrible revelation that threatens to destroy her dreams of happiness forever.
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Emily Brontë (1818–1848) was the sister of Charlotte and Anne Brontë. Educated by their clergyman father and inspired by the works of Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Sir Walter Scott, all three sisters wrote poetry and fiction under pen names. Emily Brontë’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, received mixed reviews when it was first published, but is now considered a masterpiece of English literature.
Jane Austen (1775–1817) was an English novelist known for her fiction set among England’s landed gentry. She was the seventh of eight children and was educated mostly at home in Hampshire. Her best-known works include Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and Emma. Although her novels, all of which were published anonymously, did not bring her fame during her lifetime, she is now one of the most widely read writers in the English language.
Thomas Hardy (1840–1928) gave up a career in architecture to devote himself to writing. He is now regarded as one of the greatest novelists in English literature. His best-remembered works, all set in the fictional county of Wessex, are Jude the Obscure, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, The Return of the Native, and Far from the Madding Crowd.
Charlotte Brontë (1816–1855) was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived into adulthood. Raised in a strict Anglican home by her clergyman father after the deaths of her mother and two elder siblings, she published all of her poetry and fiction under the pen name Currer Bell. Jane Eyre, her most famous work, is widely considered one of the finest and most influential novels of the nineteenth century.
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