My Teenage Love for Those Moody Men of the Moors

When I was in high school, I fell in love with Gothic historical fiction. And Gothic historical men. I can’t remember which tempestuous hero of the English moors first sparked this literary infatuation, but I was smitten.

Here’s a short tribute to the brooding Byronic males who won my heart when I was a teen reader.

Wuthering Heights

Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights, you moody wild child, I didn’t care that you clashed with Catherine and embraced your dark side far too often. You had unruly hair and an undying love: that’s what mattered most to teenaged me (who also happened to be named Catherine).


Mr. Rochester, you lonely, haunted master of Thornfield Hall, when you fell in love with plain Jane Eyre, you gave this quiet, studious girl hope that romance could happen to just about anyone. I didn’t care what or whom you were hiding in your house.


Maxim de Winter, you charming, troubled widower from Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, I think I loved you most of all, although looking back, I see you were far too old for me…and you had one of the creepiest housekeepers in literature. Yet you inspired me to write my own Rebecca-style novel, The Days of Devonshire, which I lovingly wrote by hand in three spiral notebooks…and which will never see the light of day, if I can help it.


Even you, Count Dracula, caught my young fancy. That neck-biting move with the ladies was awfully alluring, and you were always such a nice dresser.

Now that I’m a grown, married adult, I realize these troubled literary heroes would all make terrible real-life boyfriends and husbands. Undying love is a beautiful thing…as long as you don’t have to deal with daily mood swings and troublesome first wives who don’t completely go away.

Still, there’s an eternal soft spot for these gentlemen in my heart, and I suppose, looking at some of the male characters in my own Gothic historical novel, I can see that my love for troubled heartthrobs haunts my writing to this day.

Cat Winters is the author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds, a WWI-era ghost tale coming April 2, 2013, from Amulet Books/ABRAMS. Visit her online at, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.


About Cat Winters

Cat Winters’s critically acclaimed debut novel, IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS, was named a 2014 Morris Award Finalist, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, a 2013 Bram Stoker Award Nominee, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2013. Her second novel, THE CURE FOR DREAMING, is a 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project Nominee and a 2015 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee. Her upcoming books include THE UNINVITED (William Morrow/2015) and THE STEEP AND THORNY WAY (Amulet Books/2016), and she’s a contributor to the 2015 YA horror anthology SLASHER GIRLS & MONSTER BOYS. Cat lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and two kids. Visit her online at

9 thoughts on “My Teenage Love for Those Moody Men of the Moors

  1. “Wuthering Heights” was our book club classic this year… and I still couldn’t get through it! All those awful people being horrible to each other! Interestingly, several women who had loved it as teens said that revisiting it as adults was revealing — they wondered why they had loved it so. Says something about the teenage heart, I think.

    Mr. Rochester is my man. Blog posts, FB posts… my friends know. It is just as you said. How could a shy, bookish girl resist?

  2. Great choices, Cat! REBECCA is my favorite book of all time. And yes, what a creepy, creepy housekeeper! Have you read Jamaica Inn? A friend of mine was the coach driver in the movie.

    • catwinters says:

      I read du Maurier’s MY COUSIN RACHEL and her short story collection, KISS ME AGAIN, STRANGER, but not JAMAICA INN. I’m not sure why not, now that I think about it. How fun that your friend was the coach driver in the movie!

  3. hannahkarena says:

    You certainly had a “type” didn’t you! I think my type as a child was probably very Disney prince themed…Eric from Little Mermaid and the Prince from Sleeping Beauty [swoons]

    • catwinters says:

      LOL. Yes, I suppose I did have a type. The charming, singing princes would be much more pleasant to have around the house, although the movie ENCHANTED did a nice job showing the pitfalls of those types of fictional men.

  4. REBECCA was a huge book for me growing up… but you are so right on the creepy housekeeper. This is such an awesome post. **LOVE**

  5. hollybindurham says:

    I love this post!! Honestly, it’s like someone – YOU! – peered into my brain (and heart) and pulled out those I most loved! This is EXACTLY what I would have written…though far more eloquently done than if I had actually written it 🙂 I sense a kindred spirit in you, Cat! Which is probably the reason I’ve been so excited for the release of IN THE SHADOW OF BLACKBIRDS!!!

    WUTHERING HEIGHTS is probably my most-loved Gothic novel, read about a hundred times growing up (no, I’m not kidding), with JANE EYRE a close second. I still have old pieces of notebook paper with quotes from both of those books that I loved so dearly I had to copy them out. Ahh, what memories… I also totally and completely fell in love with REBECCA when I discovered it, and du Maurier will hold a place with the Bronte sisters in my heart forever. I noted with interest the first comment below, relaying the experiences of women who’d loved WH as teens re-reading it and being disappointed…I believe that I may just never re-read it so as not to spoil the memories of the amazing FEELS I had those many years ago!!!

    Thanks for this post, I just love it, and it has brought back so many emotions this evening for me 🙂


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