65 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1847

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Authorial Context: The Brontës

Anne was the sixth and youngest child of Patrick Brontë, an Irish clergyman, and Maria Branwell, a merchant’s daughter. Her mother died when Anne was one, and two of her older sisters passed away, probably of tuberculosis (then called consumption), when Anne was five. She grew up with her older brother Branwell and older sisters, Charlotte and Emily, at the parsonage of Haworth, West Yorkshire, where her father was perpetual curate. Anne, described by her family and friends as gentle, quiet, and reserved, was considered the favorite of their Aunt Elizabeth, who lived with the family.

Surrounded and inspired by their father’s library, the four children entertained themselves by building richly imagined worlds populated by fictionalized celebrities and their own characters, in whose voices they wrote magazines, travelogues, romances, and poetry. While Charlotte and Branwell collaborated on the worlds of Angria and Glass Town, inspired by English settlements in Africa, Emily and Anne invented Gondal, a fictional island in the North Pacific governed by rival families. Scholar Christine Alexander, who edited Tales of Glass Town, Angria, and Gondal (2010) for Oxford World’s Classics, explores how these early endeavors were “both workshop and playground” (xliii) for the sisters, all three of whom would go on to publish poetry and novels.