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Mary Barton

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell

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.

Soon afterwards Mrs Barton dies, and John is left with his daughter Mary to cope in the harsh world around them. Having already been deeply affected by the loss of his son Tom at a young age, after the death of his wife, Barton tackles depression and begins to involve himself in the Chartist movement connected with the trade unions.

First Page:


by Elizabeth Gaskell


I. A mysterious disappearance. II. A Manchester tea party. III. John Barton's great trouble. IV. Old Alice's history. V. The mill on fire Jem Wilson to the rescue. VI. Poverty and death. VII. Jem Wilson's repulse. VIII. Margaret's debut as a public singer. IX. Barton's London experiences. X. Return of the prodigal. XI. Mr. Carson's intentions revealed. XII. Old Alice's bairn. XIII. A traveller's tales. XIV. Jem's interview with poor Esther. XV. A violent meeting between the rivals. XVI. Meeting between masters and workmen. XVII. Barton's night errand. XVIII. Murder. XIX. Jem Wilson arrested on suspicion. XX. Mary's dream and the awakening. XXI. Esther's motive in seeking Mary. XXII. Mary's efforts to prove an alibi. XXIII. The sub poena. XXIV. With the dying. XXV. Mrs. Wilson's determination. XXVI. The journey to Liverpool. XXVII. In the Liverpool docks. XXVIII. "John Cropper," ahoy! XXIX. A true bill against Jem... Continue reading book >>

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