Anne Brontë’s novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, published in 1848, was underrated at the time, but has been realized since as an early feminist masterpiece. And this 1996 three-part BBC production is a fine realization of the work.
Tara Fitzgerald plays idealistic, pious Helen, a young woman who marries wealthy, rakish Arthur Huntingdon (Rupert Graves). She thinks her love can reform him, but she’s quickly proven wrong. However, she bears him a son, who Huntingdon is determined to corrupt in his own image, and this drives Helen to desperate measures.
The story is told in flashback, as Helen has escaped her husband to live some distance away at Wildfell Hall, which she rents from a Mr. Lawrence (James Purefoy). In town, she meets Gilbert Markham (Toby Stephens), who becomes smitten with the mysterious woman.
With this frock-flicky star-studded cast and costumes designed by the always-excellent Rosalind Ebbutt (The Buccaneers, Downton Abbey, Victoria), this is one is worth watching and rewatching! It’s currently available on Amazon Prime, so don’t miss it.
Have you read or watched The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?