Death and the Alcoholic: Public Discourses of Alcoholism in Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


This article examines Anne Brontë’s dialogue with advanced thinking about drunkenness in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) by comparing the novel’s approach to extreme drinking with the advice of moral and medical theorists, and with contemporary temperance fiction. It addresses the novelist’s approaches to key questions about alcohol addiction: what are its causes; what are its symptoms; how should the urge to drink be understood; what constitutes successful treatment? It argues that the death of Arthur Huntingdon, who embodies Anne’s brother Branwell’s affliction, manifests her feelings of hopelessness and resulting frustration with the positive pictures of treatment and recovery presented by modern medicine and temperance fiction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-47
Number of pages19
JournalSocial History of Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Alcohol
  • Brontes
  • Wuthering Heights
  • Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  • Suicide
  • Medical Humanities
  • Science
  • Drinking
  • Drunkenness

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