Five Things You Never Knew About Emily Brontë and Wuthering Heights

It's Emily Brontë's birthday today, and we're honoring the woman who wrote the famed English classic, Wuthering Heights. The shyest of her sisters, Emily was more comfortable out in nature, with animals. That struggle between culture and nature shows in Wuthering Heights, as we see its protagonists Catherine and Heathcliff ruled by their passions while the Linton family focuses more on societal refinement.

Wuthering Heights' main character Catherine Earnshaw is often drescribed as "free-spirited." Following her lead, MAKERS celebrates strong-willed heroines in literature. From the classics to the most recent best-sellers flying off the shelves, the female perspective is a driving force in some of our favorites novels. Whether she's Elizabeth Bennet navigating through the world of class and marriage in the British country or Lisbeth Salander hacking her way through secrets to uncover unbelievable mysteries, we're inspired by these forward-looking, character-filled protagonists. Click through the gallery above to take a look at other heroines who MADE the story!

Even 166 years after Emily's death, Wuthering Heights maintains a regular presence in popular culture. Though you may have read the book, and you've heard it referenced in Twilight and Breakfast at Tiffany's, we've got a few Brontë tidbits you might not know:

1. The Brontë sisters originally published a book of poetry titled Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. Each sister retained her initials, so Emily wrote under Ellis Bell with Charlotte as Currer and Anne as Acton.

2. Only two copies of that first book sold.

3. Wuthering Heights has seen 150 years of steady sales as a high school literature class staple, but when the Twilight films came out and Bella compared her love for vampire Edward to Cathy's love for Heathcliff, a reissue of Wuthering Heights sold four times more copies than the average year. The new cover branded it, "Bella & Edward's Favorite Book."

4. Wuthering Heights was met with mixed reviews when it first came out in 1847, when Emily was 29. It challenged the Victorian ideals of the time, including morality, social classes, and gender inequality.

5. The song "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (written by Jim Steinman and recorded by Bonnie Tyler) was inspired by Wuthering Heights. It's one of the best-selling singles of all time.


Harry Potter's Hermione Granger is a Muggle-born Gryffindor student and best friend of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. According to author J.K Rowling, Hermione is an exaggerated version of what she herself was like as a child--a little know-it-all.    Photo: Getty Images

J.K. Rowling has said that Hermione, being a strong-willed, intelligent female, is the feminist conscience of the series. The character's name is inspired from Shakespeare's The Winter Tale's Hermione, the virtuous and beautiful Queen of Sicily.   Photo: Getty Images

The heroine of the best-selling Millennial series, Lisbeth Salander is a world class computer hacker with a photographic memory. Her talents come into use while solving murder mysteries.    Photo: Toronto Star via Getty Images

Author Stieg Larsson has stated in interviews that he based Lisbeth's character on what he imagined Pippi Longstocking might have been like as an adult. Pictured is actress Rooney Mara who played Lisbeth in the American version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby heartbreaker Daisy Buchanan has the wealthy Jay Gatsby wrapped around her finger. American actors Mia Farrow, as Daisy, and Robert Redford, as Gatsby, reach for one another across a room in a scene from 1974 The Great Gatsby film.   Photo: Getty Images

Daisy is believed to have been inspired by Fitzgerald's own youthful romance with Ginevra King whom he met in 1915 at a sledding party but who eventually went on to marry another man. King became a muse for several of Fitzgerald's female characters in his other works.    Photo (Right): Getty Images 

Southern belle Scarlett O'Hara is the heroine in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 novel Gone with the Wind. She is vain, self-centered, spoiled, but also intelligent--not your average romantic novel protagonist for the time.   Photo: Getty Images

More than 30 actresses were considered for the role of Scarlett in the 1939 film adaptation, including Lucille Ball, Katharine Hepburn, Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis...the list goes on!   Photo: Getty Images

The search for an actress eventually landed on the virtually unknown English actress, Vivien Leigh, who went on to win an Academy Award for the role. Photo: Getty Images

Salutations! E.B. White's 1952 Charlotte's Web's tite character is the only spider we would invite into our home. After sparking a friendship with a pig named Wilbur, Charlotte uses her web-making skills to write messages in her web to convince the farmer to save Wilbur from the slaughterhouse.

Charlotte's full name is Charlotte A. Cavatica. A. Cavatica is actually the species name for a barn spider.   Photo: Martin Ruegner

E.B. White published Death of a Pig in 1948, an account of how he failed to save a sick pig. Charlotte’s Web can be seen as White attempting to save his pig in retrospect through his heroine, Charlotte.    Photos: Getty Images

Twelve-year-old Margaret of Judy Blume's young adult novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret is the protagonist who's starting sixth grade, beginning puberty, curious about boys, and questioning her religion. She's the voice for so many young girls experiencing those similar changes.

Throughout the 1980s, Margaret and other novels authored by Blume were included in book banning campaigns being it mentions puberty!

Elizabeth Bennet is often regarded as one of Jane Austen's most admirable heroines. As the protagonist of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth, known as Lizzy to her friends and family, is an intelligent young woman who must deal with issues of manners, upbringing, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England.

Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice when she was 21 years old!   Photo: Getty Images

There have been more than 10 film adaptations of the novel! Actresses who played Lizzie recently include Renée Zellweger, Keira Knightley and Aishwarya Rai. Pictured is Greer Garson starring in the the 1940 Pride And Prejudice with Laurence Olivier.   Photo: Getty Images

Jane Eyre is the heroine of Charlotte Brontë's 1847 novel of the same name. In her coming-of-age novel, Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its eponymous character, including her growth to adulthood. Photo: Getty Images

Jane Eyre was originally published under the alias Currer Bell. Author Charlotte Brontë and her two sisters all used male pseudonyms since it was believed female authors were judged too softly. Photo: Getty Images

Jane Eyre has been adapted to film nearly 20 times as well as countless other adaptations including a graphic novel! Pictured is actress Joan Fontaine in the 1944 film.   Photo: Getty Images

Celie is the main character in Alice Walker's The Color Purple who's been oppressed by men her whole life. The novel focuses on what it was like to be a black female in the southern United States in the 1930s.

Whoopi Goldberg starred as Celie in Steven Spielberg's 1984 film adaptation of Walker's novel.    Photo: Getty Images

The Nancy Drew character of the mystery series first appeared in 1930. The amateur sleuth spends her time solving mysteries, some of which she stumbles upon and some of which begin as cases of her father's. Photo: Washington Post/Getty Images

Even as the Nancy Drew character has evolved, she's proven continuously popular worldwide: at least 80 million copies of the books have been sold, and the books have been translated into over 45 languages. Photo: ABC via Getty Images

Some incredible women including Supreme Court Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Sonia Sotomayor, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former First Lady Laura Bush cite Nancy Drew and as being a significant influence on them. Photo: Toronto Star via Getty Images

In Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen bravely volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, where 12 teams battle to the death.

In 2012, actress Jennifer Lawrence starred as the talented archer and hunter from District 12, and will reprise the role in the sequel. Photo: WireImage 

Jean Louise Finch, better known as Scout, is the narrator and protagonist of Harper Lee's 1960 To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel is written from Scout's point of view as an adult, but describes how she viewed the events as a six-year-old child. Photo: Washington Post/Getty Images

In the 1962 film adaptation of the novel, Scout was played by Mary Badham, who earned an Academy Award nomination at the age of 10 for the role. Pictured is Badham with Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.   Photo: Getty Images

Anne Shirley from Lucy Maud Montgomery's 1908 Anne of Green Gables is the red-headed, imaginative, talkative, orphan who comes to live with unmarried siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert.

Anne of Green Gable author Lucy Montgomery wrote in her journal that the idea for Anne's story came from relatives who, planning to adopt an orphaned boy, received a girl instead. Photo: MCT Graphics via Getty Images

Anne Shirley's appearance was inspired by a photograph which Montgomery clipped froma magazine, unaware of the model's identity as the well-known 1900s Gibson Girl, Evelyn Nesbit, pictured on the left.   Photo: Library of Congress