EMILY Brontë would have prospered more if she had lived in modern day, claims her latest biographer.

Dr Claire O’Callaghan says the Wuthering Heights author was a “thoroughly modern woman” more suited to the 21st-century than the 19th.

Emily Brontë Reappraised, published on June 15 during the 200th anniversary year of the novelist’s birth, is described as a “biography with a twist”.

Dr O’Callaghan sets out to rehabilitate Emily, conjuring up an image of a woman who was simply ahead of her time. She argues against the conventional wisdom that Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë were the “three weird sisters”, with Emily being the weirdest of the lot.

Dr O’Callaghan said: “Over the years, Emily has been portrayed in many different ways, but it’s usually negative. In some biographical commentaries, she’s a staid, old-fashioned, people-hating spinster who roamed about the Yorkshire moors alone with her dog, or, alternately, a painfully shy and socially awkward girl-woman who was sick whenever she left home.

“Elsewhere, she’s a stubborn and defiant woman who willingly withheld assorted physical and mental ailments, or an ethereal soul too fragile to endure the real world.

“Seldom is she kind, and in most, she’s a superior intellect, a genius unable or unwilling to participate in ‘normal’ society. With such eccentric images, it’s no wonder that Emily is still perceived today as ‘no normal being’.”

Dr O’Callaghan argues that this derogatory view of Emily has its roots in the account of her offered by her first biographer and mythographer: a sister Charlotte.

Dr O’Callaghan said: “Nowadays, being shy or reserved is recognised as a composite part of some people’s personalities, which are multifaceted and complex. We accept that people display character traits in myriad ways in different situations.

“The image of a lone woman (and her dog) striding defiantly across the Yorkshire moorland is incredibly powerful to me; Emily was an independent spirit at a time when female independence wasn’t culturally welcomed, and it’s partly for that reason that she’s cruelly derided as odd and weird.”

Emily Brontë Reappraised is published by Sarabande and costs £9.99.