Widely considered to be one of the first feminist novels, Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall quickly became infamous for its candid depictions of marital abuse and violence. Similarly, a contemporary lens reveals a sinister side to the ‘heroes’ of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights – Rochester and Heathcliff.

By inspecting these themes – and other examples found in the wider Brontë canon – this panel discussion invites you to re-evaluate the ways in which the darker sides of spousal relationships unwittingly inspired some of the earliest radical literature.

About The Speakers

Claire O’Callaghan

Claire O’Callaghan is a Lecturer in Humanities at Loughborough University. Her research focuses on Victorian and neo-Victorian fiction. She is an expert on the lives and works of the Brontës has published widely on their works, and she is the author of Emily Brontë Reappraised (2018).

Sam Baker

Sam Baker is a journalist, broadcaster and author as well as former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan and Red magazine in the UK. She is the author of five novels, including The Woman Who Ran, and one work of non-fiction, The Shift. She has written for a wide range of media, co-founded The Pool and has also judged the Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Costa Novel Award.

About The Chair


Bidisha is film maker, journalist and presenter and an artist working in film and photography. She is a longtime broadcaster for Sky News, BBC TV and Radio, Channel 5 and CNN and a regular contributor to The Guardian and The Observer. Her most recent books are The Future of Serious Art (2020) and Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices (2015). As a film director, she has released An Impossible Poison (2017) and the Aurora series (2020 – present).