Needing My Fix of Wuthering Heights

Top Withens, the site, if not the building, that inspired Wuthering Heights.

Every so often, I find myself needing to reread  Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights all over again. I love this novel so much. Something reminded me about it today and (having read several paperback copies to bits over the years) I've just transferred the file to the newer of my Kindles. I don't know why but from time to time, these days, I also find myself acutely, almost painfully homesick for Yorkshire - but I think it's the Yorkshire of my childhood and that's a hard place to visit! 

I was born in Leeds. When I was young, we used to visit Haworth - my parents and myself - and we would walk over the moors to the already derelict farmhouse called Top Withens, said to be the site - if not the actual building - of Wuthering Heights. This was my mother's favourite novel as well and the reason why she chose to call me Catherine which isn't a family name at all. In fact family legend has it that my parents trundled me over the moors in a baby buggy, before I could walk and there is an old black and white snapshot to prove it. 

Ponden Hall  - much quoted as the model for Thrushcross Grange - is actually much closer to the appearance of the Heights, albeit not its situation. Browsing online today, I was enchanted to discover that you can stay there for Bed and Breakfast and they have an Earnshaw Room with - oh joy! - a box bed like Cathy's. 

I now want to go and stay there so much that it hurts. 
We'll see what this year brings. 

Here I am, right in the middle of a deeply Scottish writing project and I can feel my Yorkshire roots tugging at me, reminding me of something else I'm longing to write. Isn't that always the way of it? 

But really, Wuthering Heights has influenced so much of my writing - not least in my Scottish novel Bird of Passage which was always intended, not as a rewriting, for that would be impossible and undesirable, but a reimagining,  a 'homage' to the original if you like. 

One reviewer, Susan Price, describes it as a dialogue with the older book, and I like that idea very much. Sometimes it feels as though I've spent my whole career in a kind of dialogue with Wuthering Heights, never quite getting to the end of it as a source of inspiration. 


Susan Price said…
Loved this, Catherine - as I loved 'Bird of Passage.' (My review can be found here -

What I loved about your book (apart from the characters, plot and small details like that) was that it stood on its own feet, was a complete original novel in its own right. I've read plenty of books that were based on older stories and probably the majority never make that break - they're either too dependent on the original, or trying so hard to be different that they're constantly bouncing off the original, shouting, 'Look how different I'm being!'

I didn't find that with Bird of Passage - in fact, it took me a long time to realise that it was based on Wuthering Heights. If I had never found out, it wouldn;t have mattered. I love you book for itself. Its connection with WH is, for me, interesting but of no great relevance.

But you must go and stay in that B&B - go on, you deserve it! And then blog about it for us.
Thanks, Sue. And glad you linked to the review. I was going to do it but I was writing this very late at night and just ran out of steam. It's a lovely review!