"asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house"

 

The Caravans - Gypsy Camp near Arles
Public DomainThe Caravans - Gypsy Camp near Arles - Credit: Vincent Van Gogh

Gypsies was the name given to Romani travellers. Having no permanent home, they wandered from place to place in travelling caravans. The first gypsies are believed to have come from Egypt, hence the name gypsy, and this would explain their darker skin and hair. Heathcliff, with his brooding dark looks and general air of scruffiness would have fit the prevailing idea of what a gypsy looked like; they were perceived to be unclean and untrustworthy. Groups of gypsies can still be found in the UK today, although the term now covers nomadic travellers of all nationalities, not just the Romani.