Agnes Grey
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814558 / 1554814553
  • 275 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Agnes Grey

  • Publication Date: September 15, 2020
  • ISBN: 9781554814558 / 1554814553
  • 275 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Agnes Grey was one of a trio of novels that defined the “governess novel” in 1847 and 1848. Alongside Jane Eyre and Vanity Fair, Agnes Grey may be the most radical of the three. Agnes Grey is the younger daughter of a clergyman and his wife of modest means, cherished but also infantilized. When her father’s mercantile investment goes disastrously wrong, Agnes decides to contribute to the family’s financial rebuilding by working as a governess, despite her mother and sister’s misgivings about her fitness for such work. Her first position is indeed trying, as the parents and children are uncouth and even cruel. Her second position is slightly more congenial, but she is still manipulated and ignored. Still, Agnes perseveres and begins to build relationships outside the family, most importantly, with a kind, empathetic young curate. As life brings more trials to Agnes and her family, we watch her persevere in her steady path of hope and determination.

This Broadview Edition provides extensive historical documents on the novel’s reception, the role of the governess in Victorian England, and contemporary debates about the treatment of non-human animals.

Appendix A: Other Writings by and about Anne Brontë

  • 1. Extract from Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey (15 April 1839)
  • 2. Anne Brontë, Diary Paper (30 July 1841)
  • 3. Extract from Charlotte Brontë to Ellen Nussey (7 August 1841)
  • 4. From Anne Brontë, Diary Paper (31 July 1845)
  • 5. Anne Brontë, “The Bluebell” (22 August 1840)
  • 6. Anne Brontë, “Appeal” (18 August 1840)
  • 7. Anne Brontë, “Lines Written at [Thorp] Green” (19 August 1841)
  • 8. Anne Brontë, “Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day” (30 December 1842)
  • 9. From Ellen Nussey, “Reminiscences of Charlotte Brontë” (1871)
  • 10. From Charlotte Brontë, “Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell” (1850)

Appendix B: Contemporary and Early Reviews and Responses

  • 1. From The Spectator (18 December 1847)
  • 2. From Henry F. Chorley, Athenaeum (25 December 1847)
  • 3. From Douglas Jerrold’s Weekly Newspaper (15 January 1848)
  • 4. From New Monthly Magazine (January 1848)
  • 5. From Atlas (22 January 1848)
  • 6. Portland [Maine] Transcript (5 January 1850)
  • 7. Graham’s Magazine [Philadelphia] (1 February 1850)
  • 8. From W. C. Roscoe, “Miss Brontë,” National Review (June 1857)
  • 9. From Mary Augusta Ward, “Introduction,” The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1900)
  • 10. From George Moore, Conversations in Ebury Street (1910)

Appendix C: The Governess in Society

  • 1. Maria Smith Abdy, “A Governess Wanted,” Metropolitan Magazine (May 1836)
  • 2. From George Stephen, The Guide to Service: The Governess (1844)
  • 3. From “Hints on the Modern Governess System,” Fraser’s Magazine (November 1844)

Appendix D: Humane Treatment of Animals

  • 1. From Isaac Watts, A Discourse on the Education of Children and Youth (1725)
  • 2. From Thomas Erskine, Speech … On … Preventing … Cruelty to Animals (1809)
  • 3. From “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals,” The Times (17 June 1824)
  • 4. From Sarah Burdett, The Rights of Animals (1839)
  • 5. From Charlotte Elizabeth [Tonna], Kindness to Animals (c. 1845)
  • 6. C.S., “The Lost Nestlings,” A Mother’s Lessons in Kindness to Animals (c. 1862)

Robin L. Inboden is Professor of English at Wittenberg University.