Published in June 1848, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was the second and final novel written by Anne Brontë under the pseudonym of Acton Bell. The plot revolves around the secrets and fortunes of... More > Helen Lawrence Huntingdon, the eponymous tenant and also the object of rumour and intrigue amongst the locals fuelled by epistolary revelations.
In terms of structure and method, the novel is hardly ground-breaking, but it received plaudits and also harsh criticism for its depiction of the woman’s plight in nineteenth century social values and more so for the decisions and actions of the principal protagonist who, in one scene, slams the bedroom door in the face of her malicious husband.< Less
Published in December 1847 under the pseudonym Acton Bell, Agnes Grey was the first of two novels by Anne Brontë. It details the experiences of the eponymous character, the daughter of a... More > minister employed as a governess, and moving between rich houses of the Bloomfields and the Murrays. The novel is in most respects autobiographical, drawn from Anne’s own experiences employed as a governess at the Robinson household for five years with the only real fictional aspect being the resolution through a love interest.
Agnes Grey has been variously described as a masterwork of prose narration and, in comparison to the work of Anne’s sisters, something necessarily mundane. It certainly hasn’t got the editorial panache of the other Brontës and can come across as flat and austere, but then the character of Agnes Grey herself implies a kind of puritan rigor that perhaps goes with the position of governess.< Less