Claire Leighton’s illustrations for Wuthering Heights

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Claire Leighton trained in England at the Slade School (which also produced, over the years, Stanley Spencer, Paul Nash and Rex Whistler) and later emigrated to America. This wood-engraving is one of twelve that she produced for an American illustrated edition of Wuthering Heights in the 1930s. I think it’s brilliantly composed, particularly in the way Cathy’s hair is swept by the wind into the crows and the clouds.

In winter the frost is always there before it comes to us; and deep into summer I have found snow under that black hollow on the north-east side…

You will, perhaps, think the building old and dark at first…

These engravings also formed the inspiration for the design of the 1939 film version with Laurence Olivier. Leighton researched her subjects thoroughly and her interpretation may have kept some Hollywood invention in check – there is still a genuine atmosphere to be found in this film today.

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