Wuthering Heights

"The genius of Mrs. Edna Clarke Hall comes in for discussion, for her illustrations of " Wuthering Heights " are indeed touched with genius, and we wonder why, among the mass of illustrated reprints of the English classics which come into the market, no one has availed them-selves of her art" wrote the The Studio in a review of The Slade Record in 1908. It asks a common question.

There are two important aspects to the answer. Firstly Edna's prodigious output of her Wuthering Heights designs was not motivated by commission or ambition but an unstoppable emotional response to a dramatic theme that she felt part of. This went far beyond any normal amount of preparatory work by an artist for an illustrated edition of a classic novel. Edna actually becomes Cathy in many of her drawings and she indicates why in her autobiography.

Secondly, although Edna was a brilliant and thoroughly trained draughtswoman, her life only allowed her to be a semi-professional artist. She exhibited and published her work only as and when she was able (and persuaded to) subject to her domestic committments and marital inhibition (her 'Cathy' subject to her husband's 'Heathcliff').

-----------------------------------------------

The first substantial study to explore Edna's obsessional response to Emily Bronte's great novel is "Edna Clarke Hall and Wuthering Heights", by Max Browne, published in The British Art Journal, vol. XVI, 2, Autumn 2015.

[On application to this website by email a b&w photocopy pdf (3Mb) of the article is available for study/reference purposes]

"Edna Clarke Hall's model for Catherine Earnshaw"

Return to Edna's Work

Return to homepage