Anne Brontë Quotes: Agnes Grey & The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Anne Bronte

Anne Brontë (1820 – 1849) may be somewhat less known to readers than her sisters, Charlotte and Emily, but also made a significant contribution to literature with her novels, Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall  (1848).

The  former follows the fortunes of the eponymous heroine, who, like the author herself, was a governess for families of the English gentry. The latter is replete with dark and mysterious themes, and is considered one of the earliest of feminist novels. Both were written under the pseudonym Acton Bell. In a preface to the second edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the author wrote:

“I am satisfied that if a book is a good one, it is so whatever the sex of the author may be. All novels are, or should be, written for both men and women to read, and I am at loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be really disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man.” 

Here are quotes from Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.

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Quotes from Agnes Grey (1847)

“I always lacked common sense when taken by surprise.”

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“I had been seasoned by adversity, and tutored by experience, and I longed to redeem my lost honour in the eyes of those whose opinion was more than that of all the world to me.”

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“I began this book with the intention of concealing nothing, that those who liked might have the benefit of perusing a fellow creature’s heart: but we have some thoughts that all the angels in heaven are welcome to behold — but not our brother-men — not even the best and kindest amongst them.”

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Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë

Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë on Amazon

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“It is foolish to wish for beauty. Sensible people never either desire it for themselves or care about it in others. If the mind be but well cultivated, and the heart well disposed, not one ever cares for the exterior.” 

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“Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.”

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“I was sorry for her; I was amazed, disgusted at her heartless vanity; I wondered why so much beauty should be given to those who made so bad a use of it, and denied to some who would make it a benefit to both themselves and others … But, God knows best, I concluded. There are, I suppose, some men as vain, as selfish, and as heartless as she is, and, perhaps, such women may be useful to punish them.”

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“… Our wishes are like tinder: the flint and steel of circumstances are continually striking out sparks, which vanish immediately, unless they chance to fall upon the tinder of our wishes; then, they instantly ignite, and the flame of hope is kindled in a moment.”

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“Shielded by my own obscurity, and by the lapse of years, and a few fictitious names, I do not fear to venture; and will candidly lay before the public what I would not disclose to the most intimate friend.”

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“The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than any one can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.”

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Quotes from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)

“No one can be happy in eternal solitude.”

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“If you would have your son to walk honourably through the world, you must not attempt to clear the stones from his path, but teach him to walk firmly over them – not insist upon leading him by the hand, but let him learn to go alone.” 

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“There is always a ‘but’ in this imperfect world.”

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“It is better to arm and strengthen your hero, than to disarm and enfeeble your foe.” 

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The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Amazon

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“When a lady does consent to listen to an argument against her own opinions, she is always predetermined to withstand it – to listen only with her bodily ears, keeping the mental organs resolutely closed against the strongest reasoning.” 

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“Life and hope must cease together.”

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“But smiles and tears are so alike with me, they are neither of them confined to any particular feelings: I often cry when I am happy, and smile when I am sad.” 

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“This paper will serve instead of a confidential friend into whose ear I might pour forth the overflowings of my heart. It will not sympathize with my distresses, but then, it will not laugh at them, and, if I keep it close, it cannot tell again; so it is, perhaps, the best friend I could have for the purpose.” 

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Illustration from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

You might also enjoy:
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall: A 19th-Century Introduction

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