Anne Brontë’s blazingly intelligent women brimming with hidden passions transformed English literature.
Published in 1847, Agnes Grey, based on her experiences of working as a governess (at the time the only respectable occupation available to unmarried women of reduced circumstances) depicts in detail the isolation inherent in a governess's life trapped in an awkward halfway world between the classes.
The title character is the younger daughter of a poor family who seeks employment as a governess in order to help her parents make ends meet.
This noble act of maturity on her part earns her nothing but disillusion, humiliation and hardship in the hands of the tyrannical children and over-indulgent parents of Wellwood House as Bronte stresses the isolation Agnes feels in the households where she is employed, how powerless she is in dealing with both the children and the adults
Family is used to identify the deterioration of society's values.
The corruption of moral values by a growing materialism is seen in the distortion of family values and affection.
Observing Agnes Grey within this larger framework, Anne Bronte's novel assumes a new significance as both a social statement and as a deliberately structured work of art.
Anne Brontë (1820 – 1849) was an English novelist and poet, the youngest member of the Brontë literary family. She lived most of her life with her family at the parish of Haworth on the Yorkshire moors, publishing a volume of poetry with her sisters (Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell, 1846) and two novels. Agnes Grey, based upon her experiences as a governess, was published in 1847. Her second and last novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is considered to be one of the first sustained feminist novels, appeared in 1848. Like her poems, both her novels were first published under the masculine pen name of Acton Bell. Anne's life was cut short when she died of tuberculosis at the age of 29. Because Charlotte Brontë prevented the re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne's death, she is not as well known as her sisters. However, her novels, like those of her sisters, have become classics of English literature.
“Agnes Grey is the most perfect prose narrative in English literature."