Ian Jack is professor of English literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, a position he has held since 1976. He was born in 1923 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and graduated from the University of Edinburgh with first class honors in 1946. In 1949, he received a D.Phil. from Merton College, Oxford University. His studies of English literature include Augustan Satire: Intention and Idiom in English Poetry, 1660-1750; The Poet and his Audience; and The Poetical Works of Robert Browning.
Emily Bronte, the sister of Charlotte, shared the same isolated childhood on the Yorkshire moors. Emily, however, seems to have been much more affected by the eerie desolation of the moors than was Charlotte. Her one novel, Wuthering Heights (1847), draws much of its power from its setting in that desolate landscape. Emily's work is also marked by a passionate intensity that is sometimes overpowering. According to English poet and critic Matthew Arnold, "for passion, vehemence, and grief she had no equal since Byron." This passion is evident in the poetry she contributed to the collection (Poems by Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell) published by the Bronte sisters in 1846 under male pseudonyms in response to the prejudices of the time. Her passion reached far force, however, in her novel, Wuthering Heights. Bronte's novel defies easy classification. It is certainly a story of love, but just as certainly it is not a "love story". It is a psychological novel, but is so filled with hints of the supernatural and mystical that the reader is unsure of how much control the characters have over their own actions. It may seem to be a study of right and wrong, but is actually a study of good and evil. Above all, it is a novel of power and fierce intensity that has gripped readers for more than 100 years.