Dr Davies's introduction and subsequent editorial notes provide a comprehensive exposition of Anne Brontë's novel. In them there is astute commentary on the main theme of the novel: the role of married women in society throughout the nineteenth century. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall deals particularly with the Regency period and the effeteness Anne Brontë witnessed first-hand as governess in a wealthy landed family; an effeteness her brother Branwell aped and which she and her sisters had to suffer at home. So not surprisingly the characters in the novel are powerfully drawn, and Dr Davies gives us a riveting analysis of those characters throughout the novel.

One important feature of this edition is the editor's highlighting the theology embedded in all the novels of the Brontë sisters, and how their novels interconnect. Not surprising given the closeness of the Brontë siblings, and the intensity with which the sisters (and at one time their brother) discussed each other's work; at once sharing and stimulating their individual genius. Religion played a great part in their daily lives and would have featured strongly in their discussions.

In this respect, Dr Davies offers in-depth commentary with some perceptive observations on Anne Brontë's particular attitude to God, the Bible and the Church. The theology expressed in the novel is the outcome of personal heart-searching and a constant pondering over God's purposes throughout Anne Brontë's life. That accords with the view I expressed in my sermon at the Brontë Society's Memorial Service in 1995: that had she been alive today, Anne Brontë may well have been a radical priest-writer ordained in the same Church as her father. In her religious outlook as in much else, Anne Brontë was proleptic.

Dr Davies's edition is well worth its price and is a valuable addition to Brontë scholarship.

  Revd John Waddington-Feather, Brontë Society Transactions Vol. 22 1997


This entire presentation Copyright © Stevie Davies