Bronteana: Bronte Studies Blog Archives

February 28, 2006


Filed under: Agnes Grey,Anecdotes,Bronteana — by bronteana @ 11:54 pm

In Search of Anne Brontë…

The saga continues. A Brontë scholarling, in a moderate sized Canadian city… trying to find a copy of Agnes Grey. I had to acknowledge that the chain stores will never stock the book, that the same goes for the university store- unless it is ordered for a class. Yes, the easy thing would be to order a copy myself but there's a point to be made here… Why is this so difficult? Today I went to B_______, the most respected rare and used bookstore in town. It is almost an institution among readers. It is located in the old city, and so I had to wind my way there on foot, through a small lane. I stepped into the lovely little shop absolutely stuffed with old books- antique books too. This is what is called book-lust, by the way. But I was on a mission. I had heard the owner speak to us about his passion for books, and heard his complaints of people stopping in only for some book Oprah had recomended- and then leaving. I had to smile to myself, and couldn't help but wonder exactly what he would make of me, then.

"I'm looking for a book by Anne Brontë."
"Which one?" (a good sign!)
"Agnes Grey." He got up and disappeared behind a bookcase.
"Anne Brontë…?"
"Agnes Grey."
"We have Tenant of Wildfell Hall…"
"Yes, everyone does…" I smiled to a gentleman there who nodded politely but probably didn't really care that everyone has copies of Tenant of Wildfell Hall– or he didn't believe me.
"We don't have that one."

And so, I bid him good day and left him to shake his head and probably wonder what that was all about and why I didn't want to buy a copy of Dr.Aitkin's newest book or something. And my poor mom, who picked me up, had to hear my ranting all the way home. Looks like I must admit defeat and order one online. I can't feel bad for the bookseller. How often will he have someone run in from the cold demanding a copy of Agnes Grey?



  1. aww that’s too bad. Hope you get your copy soon Bronteana.

    btw, that entry is entertaining! perhaps you could make a skit/play off of it? 😉

    Comment by mysticgypsy — March 1, 2006 @ 12:23 am |Reply

  2. I think the bookseller influenced me. When he talked to my publishing class his ‘speech’ was actually a short story, a kind of creative non-fiction. 🙂

    I’m not ordering it from the chain stores. They are partly to blame for this, I’m sure of it! The small bookseller is just trying to make ends meet, and promote Canadian literature while he’s at it. I do feel pity for him. But I did give him something to think about.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 1, 2006 @ 12:32 am |Reply

  3. You could use the Brontë Parsonage Museum online shop and support the preservation and promotion of Anne Brontë’s literary heritage

    Comment by Alan Bentley — March 1, 2006 @ 8:38 am |Reply

  4. You know, that’s a really good idea. I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you for the reminder!

    Comment by Brontëana — March 1, 2006 @ 10:15 am |Reply

  5. I am very surprised; I have not had a hard time finding it. But I live in a university town…yes, that must be it. That is really too bad about your Agnes Grey. *I* have a copy I could loan you. But I am not in Canada. Too bad

    Comment by Alice — March 1, 2006 @ 11:47 am |Reply

  6. to Alice:

    I live in a university town as well, but I have been hearing a lot about some of the problems in the Canadian publishing and bookselling world which might explain this in part… One chain store holds 70% of bookselling in this country. Last week I heard from a bookseller that this company refers to books as ‘wallpaper’- things to cover the walls with. This is why I could find 35 copies of a bestseller that will be forgotten by next year but not one copy of Agnes Grey.

    Why it isn’t turning up in the used market is actually a positive. It means that people who are reading Agnes Grey are enjoying it enough that they are not reselling it. As I said, the independent booksellers are also trying their best to promote new Canadian authors in a market that is shutting them out- which means no one is concerned with classics.

    None of these should really excuse this, but the will to change things among readers isn’t there at the moment.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 1, 2006 @ 4:03 pm |Reply

  7. I propose that we Bronte fans (all of us included if need be) show some activism and protest in cities and bookstores (with posters and placards and what not?)

    *pictures a Brontean riot*

    Comment by mysticgypsy — March 1, 2006 @ 5:16 pm |Reply

  8. That sounds a lot like a scene from The Eyre Affair! (several scenes, actually). There was a riot between surrealist and renaissance enthusiasts, and then a huge candle light figil for Jane when she was kidnapped from the novel. 😉

    I still think Random Acts of Brontë is a good plan.

    Comment by Brontëana — March 1, 2006 @ 8:05 pm |Reply

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