65 pages 2 hours read

Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1847

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Chapters 1-5

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

The story opens with the narrator, Agnes Grey, speaking in the first person, stating that she will relate her history in hopes that her story may be instructive. She describes her family situation. Her father, Richard Grey, is a clergyman with a living in the north of England, and her mother is a squire’s daughter who gave up her wealth and her family to marry him, happily so. Of their six children, only Mary and Agnes survived childhood. Agnes, younger by five or six years, has been sheltered to the point that she worries she is “too helpless and too dependent—too unfit for buffeting the cares and turmoils of life” (4).

Her father taught them Latin and their mother, an accomplished woman, was otherwise in charge of their education. They did not have much society, and Agnes admits she always harbored a secret wish to see more of the world.

They had enough income to live comfortably, if not well, but her father was persuaded to invest all their money in a shipping venture, and they were left impoverished when the ship sank. The calamity ruined her father’s nerves and health. Her mother has dedicated herself to reducing their household expenses and being as thrifty as possible.