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By: Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell North and South

Mrs. Gaskell as she was popularly known, had a hard and lonely childhood, spent with various aunts and relatives after her mother died and her father left her. The young Elizabeth met and married a clergyman and moved to Manchester with him. It was here that she developed her strong sense of social justice and the themes which form the basis of her writing. Her biography of her dear friend Charlotte Bronte is considered a classic and provides a wonderfully human picture of the Yorkshire genius and her equally talented, tragic family...

Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell Wives and Daughters

This story opens with a young girl on a visit to a stately mansion, which is a local tourist attraction. Exhausted and waiting for the rest of the party to finish the tour, she falls asleep under a tree. She is discovered by the daughter of the house and the governess, who comfort her and put her to bed in the governess's room, promising to wake her before the tourists leave. However, the governess forgets and the girl is stranded in the mansion. Her father arrives to take her home. Many years later, her father brings the same governess home as his new wife...

The Grey Woman by Elizabeth Gaskell The Grey Woman

A “Bluebeard” story in which a young woman marries a man whom she discovers has killed his previous wives and is trying to kill her as well.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell Cranford

Cranford is the best-known novel of the 19th century English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. It was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words, which was edited by Charles Dickens.

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell Mary Barton

Mary Barton is the first novel by English author Elizabeth Gaskell, published in 1848. The story is set in the English city of Manchester during the 1830s and 1840s and deals heavily with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class. The novel begins in Manchester, where we are introduced to the Bartons and the Wilsons, two working class families. John Barton reveals himself to be a great questioner of the distribution of wealth and the relation between the rich and the poor. He also relates how his sister-in-law Esther has disappeared after she ran away from home...

Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell Ruth

The book is a social novel, dealing with Victorian views about sin and illegitimacy. It is a surprisingly compassionate portrayal of a ‘fallen woman’, a type of person normally outcast from respectable society. The title of the novel refers to the main character Ruth Hilton, an orphaned young seamstress who is seduced and then abandoned by gentleman Henry Bellingham. Ruth, pregnant and alone, is taken in by a minister and his sister. They conceal her single status under the pretence of widowhood in order to protect her child from the social stigma of illegitimacy...

The Life Of Charlotte Brontë by Elizabeth Gaskell The Life Of Charlotte Brontë

Charlotte Brontë was a British author, the eldest of the three famous Brontë sisters who have become standards of English literature. She is best known for her novel Jane Eyre, one of the greatest classics of all time. Just two years after Charlotte’s death, her friend Elizabeth Gaskell wrote her biography. Want to know more about Charlotte Brontë? If you do, please read this biography.

Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell Sylvia's Lovers

The novel begins in the 1790s in the coastal town of Monkshaven. Sylvia Robson lives with her parents on a farm, and is loved by her rather dull Quaker cousin Philip. She, however, meets and falls in love with Charlie Kinraid, a sailor on a whaling vessel, and they become engaged, although few people know of the engagement. But Charlie gets press-ganged and have to leave without a word.

Cousin Phillis by Elizabeth Gaskell Cousin Phillis

Cousin Phillis (1864) is a novel by Elizabeth Gaskell about Paul Manning, a youth of seventeen who moves to the country and befriends his mother's family and his second cousin Phillis Holman, who is confused by her own placement at the edge of adolescence. Most critics agree that Cousin Phillis is Gaskell's crowning achievement in the short novel. The story is uncomplicated; its virtues are in the manner of its development and telling.

Book cover Round the Sofa

Round the Sofa (1859), is a book of stories by the lady that Charles Dickens called his “dear Scheherazade” due to her skill as a story teller. That Lady was Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South, Wives and Daughters, Cranford etc.). Mrs. Gaskell begins with Round the Sofa, a short story which she uses as a device to stitch together six previously published stories into a single work. It introduces us to a set of characters who take turns to recount stories to one another during their weekly soirée...

Book cover The Grey Woman and other Tales
Book cover My Lady Ludlow

This novella by the acclaimed Elizabeth Gaskell follows the reminiscences and life of aristocratic Lady Ludlow, told through the eyes of one of her charges, the young Margaret Dawson. Lady Ludlow epitomizes the unwillingness of the old English gentry to accept the progression of social reform and technology, such as education for the poor and religious leniency. She reminisces about her friends in the French revolution and tries to protect and guide the numerous young ladies she has taken under her care.

Book cover Dark Night's Work

Love, murder and class commentary in Mrs Gaskell's usual brilliant style! This novel was originally serialised and published by Charles Dickens, with whom Mrs Gaskell had several disagreements. She chose to avoid melodrama and concentrate on psychological realism to produce a moving story of people meeting and parting across class divides.

Book cover Doom of the Griffiths
Book cover Moorland Cottage

"Maggie Brown is torn between her mother who constantly tells her to live for her selfish brother (to whom she gives all her love) to her wish to marry Frank and live for herself. Maggie's plight for independence shows the change in women's role, which started to take place during that time. But it also keeps to the tradition of an almost Cinderella story: the pure woman does the best for everyone but herself and is rewarded for that. In addition, this is a very interesting story, written in Gaskell's remarkable style. When you read it, you are transported to another time, and place".

Book cover Lizzie Leigh
Book cover Round the Sofa
Book cover Half a Life-Time Ago
Book cover An Accursed Race
Book cover The Poor Clare
Book cover The Half-Brothers
Book cover Cranford (version 2)

Cranford is set in a small market town populated largely by a number of respectable ladies. It tells of their secrets and foibles, their gossip and their romances as they face the challenges of dealing with new inhabitants to their society and innovations to their settled existence. It was first published between 1851 and 1853 as episodes in Charles Dickens’ Journal Household Words. Appended to this recording is a short sequel, The Cage at Cranford, written ten years later and published in the journal All the Year Round...

Book cover North and South (version 3)

North and South is set in the fictional industrial town of Milton in the North of England. Forced to leave her home in the tranquil rural south, Margaret Hale settles with her parents in Milton where she witnesses the brutal world wrought by the industrial revolution and employers and workers clashing in the first organized strikes. Sympathetic to the poor whose courage and tenacity she admires and among whom she makes friends, she clashes with John Thornton, a cotton mill manufacturer who belongs to the nouveaux riches and whose contemptuous attitude to workers Margaret despises.


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