Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Parsonage. Family home in an unnamed village in the north of England, that is provided to Agnes’s father because he is the parish priest. It is portrayed as modest but well-furnished and comfortable. The landscape is moorland, with narrow valleys, streams, and woods. Though neither the landscape nor her father’s labors as priest in the community are described in any detail, the parallels to Anne Brontë’s own parsonage home in Haworth in the Yorkshire Dales are very strong, although Haworth was somewhat less rural than Agnes’s home. Agnes and her mother are forced to leave the parsonage after her father’s death, as the house is owned by the church.


Wellwood. Newly built house of Mr. Bloomfield, the nouveau riche purse-proud manufacturer, whose wife first employs Agnes as governess to her two older children. Situated some twenty miles from the parsonage, it has well laid out grounds and woods with a large garden. It is Agnes’s home for a year until she is dismissed for incompetence. Brontë’s first post as governess at Blake Hall, Mirfield, seems to have served as material for the portrayal of Wellwood.

Horton Lodge

Horton Lodge. Home of Mr. Murray, Agnes’s second employer, located near O——, seventy miles away from the parsonage. O—— itself is a large town, but not in an industrial area. Horton Lodge is older and larger than Wellwood, with a deer park. The grounds are much more established, with fine old trees. It stands in fertile country, with green lanes and hedgerows, as opposed to the stone walls more typical of Yorkshire. Agnes finds its flatness boring after the moors of her hometown. Here she tutors the two girls of the family, Rosalie and Matilda, and, until they are sent away to school, the two...

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Agnes Grey Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Bell, A. Craig. The Novels of Anne Brontë. Braunton, England: Merlin Books, 1992. A critical study providing a general introduction to Brontë’s work. Includes discussion of the novels under the headings “Sources,” “Style and Structure,” and “Characters.”

Chitham, Edward. A Life of Anne Brontë. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1991. This biography reexamines sources of previous biographies and guards against indiscriminate use of novels and poems for the purpose of biographical study. Explains the composition of Agnes Grey and distinguishes its autobiographical and fictional elements.

Eagleton, Terry. Myths of Power: A Marxist Study of the Brontës. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1975. A significant reading by a major Marxist critic. Analyzes social implications of Agnes Grey and its triadic structure of pious heroine, morally lax upper-class man, and principled hero. Maintains that the novel connects social and economic issues with moral principles and inculcates bourgeois virtues of piety, plainness, duty, and sobriety.

Langland, Elizabeth. Anne Brontë: The Other One. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble, 1989. The best book-length critical study of Anne Brontë. Examines Brontë’s innovations in theme and technique, identifies her literary precursors, and analyzes the relationships between the novels of all three Brontë sisters. Treats Agnes Grey as a novel of female development and stresses its feminist principles and realism.

Scott, P. J. M. Anne Brontë: A New Critical Assessment. Totowa, N.J.: Barnes & Noble, 1983. Analyzes themes and characters with particular emphasis on moral issues and on Agnes’ learning to cope with the realities of life. Includes close reading and explication of a number of passages.