Under the Volcano: Revolution in a Sicilian Town by Lucy Riall - review by Jonathan Keates

Jonathan Keates

Big Trouble in Little Bronte

Under the Volcano: Revolution in a Sicilian Town


Oxford University Press 278pp £35

Which British hero links Mount Etna and Wuthering Heights? The answer hasn’t any connection with Heathcliff or Catherine Earnshaw, however volcanic their emotional lives, and the violent death of the figure in question occurred 42 years before the novel’s publication. Will it help if I add that but for his demise, its author might nowadays be known to us as Emily Brunty?

The right answer – as you guessed – is the victor of Trafalgar, who signed himself ‘Nelson and Bronte’. An ambitious Irish undergraduate at Cambridge, Patrick Brunty or Prunty – the sisters’ father – saw a heaven-sent advantage in adopting the latter name as his own. The rest, as they

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