Thursday, 16 July 2020

Brontë, Anne "Agnes Grey"

Brontë, Anne "Agnes Grey" - 1847

Anne Brontë, the youngest and lesser known of the three Brontë sisters. I have no idea why because her stories are just as great as those of her sisters. If not better. They are more down to earth, in my opinion.

There are some parallels to the story of Jane Eyre who works as a governess just as Agnes Grey does. That is probably because it was what the Brontë sisters experienced themselves. Agnes Grey is partly autobiographical, Anne Brontë added a lot of her own life here.

You can tell Anne is the daughter of a pastor, just as Jane Austen was, another parallel to a great author.

We learn about the hard life of a governess. If parents don't really want to be involved, want to discipline their children but also don't want others to discipline them but want those others to teach their children, you are always the piggy in the middle. How is the poor governess to instill the love of learning in children who are not told to follow the teacher? I know that teachers have a similar problem nowadays with parents who think their kids are little angels and little Einsteins at the same time while at the same time … well, let's not go there.

What a shame she died so young. I loved "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" as much as I loved this novel. Would have been great to be able to read more of her writings.

From the back cover:

"When her family becomes impoverished after a disastrous financial speculation, Agnes Grey determines to find work as a governess in order to contribute to their meagre income and assert her independence. But Agnes's enthusiasm is swiftly extinguished as she struggles first with the unmanageable Bloomfield children and then with the painful disdain of the haughty Murray family; the only kindness she receives comes from Mr Weston, the sober young curate. Drawing on her own experience, Anne Brontë's first novel offers a compelling personal perspective on the desperate position of unmarried, educated women for whom becoming a governess was the only respectable career open in Victorian society."


  1. This and her other book have been on my lists forever. When I was a tutor I experienced many of the same problems with parents.

    1. I know, it's a worldwide problem.

      Anne Brontë is probably my favourite of the sisters. I highly recommend her.

      Happy Sunday!

  2. I love the Brontës and their books. I am not too fond of Agnes Grey but loved The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. That is a truly great novel, and so much ahead of its time.

    1. As I said above ^^, I wouldn't be able to select my favourite book of her, I liked them both. And I think, all those female writers were very much ahead of their time, otherwise they would not have written at all. The woman's place was in the kitchen. There are still men around who think that and how much harder must it have been at the time of the Brontës (or Jane Austen, or even earlier) to fight their way out of there.

      It's so interesting, I didn't know you until today and now we seem to have so much in common. This might be the beginning of a long friendship (to quote from one of my favourite films). ;)

    2. It seems we have quite a lot in common. I have also lived in Brussels, from 1997 - 2018. When were you there? I was a member and also active in the Brussels Brontë Group. That is why the Brontës have a place in my heart. Were you a member? I had a very interesting time with the group, including a reading group of 19th century classics.

    3. Unfortunately, we would not have met while we lived in Brussels, I was there at the beginning of the 80s (probably far too early for you, LOL) but we have been back many, many times. We wanted to go with my brothers to the Flower Carpet this year (which we've seen almost ever time since they started it).

      Anyway, Brussels Brontë Group, nope, I wasn't even aware of it but they might not have existed back then. I only became aware of reading groups in the late nineties when I joined my first one in England. I have been a member and/or leading one every since. But the Brontës are still close to my heart, they have done so much for women, they don't even know about it because they had to leave us so early.

      It's really nice to have met you.

    4. That was too early. It was founded in the 90s by enthusiasts. They have a web-site and a blog and you find the links here.

      It was great to be part of this Brontë fan club.

      Great sisters. Have you read any biography about them. I can recommend Julie Barker's The Brontës. It is thick but it contains everything about them.

      My personal favourite is Emily and Wuthering Heights.

    5. I was afraid that would be the case. I already saw the links on your page but thank you for mentioning them here, as well. Maybe someone else will also find it.

      Being in a reading group is always great, I've never been a member of any fan club but I'm sure I would have joined.

      I have seen a biography on tv but that's ages ago, I try to read stuff about authors I like on the internet but, no, I haven't read a biography about the Brontës. Will have to check for it. I don't mind thick books. On the contrary, I love them.

      My personal favourite is probably Anne and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. But one has to love them all.

    6. I also enjoy reading groups, and this one is especially enjoyable. I started a reading group here where I live and we meet about every six weeks (except now!). I love to discuss the books I read. You get an extra input about the novels when you get the view from others.

    7. I meant to either join or start a reading group once we settled here. Then came Corona. But I have a few online ones, so that's good, even though it's not the same.

      One of the main reasons I started this blog was that in our international book club, members would only stay for a while and then move back to their country. This way, we can stay in touch. I discuss a lot of the books with them via e-mail after I posted the review because not many have a blog and/or want to follow one. So, you might not see many comments but I'm always happy about anyone who wants to join in.

      Thanks for that.

    8. It is a great idea with on-line meetings. Especially, when members live in different countries. I have even been able to join a few meetings with the Brontë Reading Group since they meet via Zoom these days!
      I would love to join in, if possible, with your book club. It is always great to exchange views on what we are reading. If possible please contact me on thecontentreader(at)

    9. Thanks, Lisbeth. That sounds great.

      I am not the leader or any of the founders of that online group but I'll ask. I'll let you know as soon as I have an answer.

      I've had a few lovely online meetings lately with old friends who live far away and who I hadn't seen for ages (doesn't mean we didn't "talk" but only via e-mail etc.), so that's nice.

      Anyway, thanks for your interest, your comments and we'll talk soon.

    10. Ok, sorry my mistake. It is ok. I just got an invitation for an on-line bookclub from a friend which I joined. I think that is enough for me for the time being.
      On-line is great when you have friends that are scattered all over the world. A nice way not to loose contact.
      Looking forward to your next posts.

    11. No mistake. You don't know. I don't know. LOL.

      But, yes, it can get too much when you are in several book clubs and also would like to read some books of your own. LOL