Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Gaskell’

Tonight at midnight [10-7-10, Pacific Time] is the deadline for commenting on any of the blog posts on the Elizabeth Gaskell Blog Tour and to enter to win the Naxos audiobook of North and South.  You can comment on my Gaskell post:  Your Gaskell Library, or any of the posts below.  Good luck! – Lovely prize!  Laurel Ann at Austenprose will be announcing the winner tomorrow, October 8th.

Biography

Novels/Biography

Novellas

Resources

 

Read Full Post »

Just discovered today! Another Elizabeth Gaskell source!  Katherine of the Austen-related blog November’s Autumn, [where she is currently posting a series on Austen's "paradox of names"] has started a new blog devoted to Elizabeth Gaskell. You can view the site here; as well as follow her on Twitter here.  Delighted to see Gaskell getting such attention in the blogsphere!

Katherine had written a post on Gaskell’s Wives and Daughters for the September 29th Blog Celebration that begins here – scroll down for the links to the 15 blogs that participated in this tribute to Gaskell on her 200th birthday.

Congratulations Katherine on your lovely new blog! [I have added you to my posted Gaskell bibliography.]

Read Full Post »

 

Welcome to the 14th stop on today’s celebration of Elizabeth Gaskell’s birthday – September 29, 1810!  Please join me in this blog tour honoring Gaskell as 15 bloggers, under the direction of Laurel Ann at Austenprose, each post something related to Gaskell – a look at her life and times, book reviews, movie reviews, a tour to her home in Manchester [see at the bottom of this post for the links to the various posts on the blog tour], and my post on “Your Gaskell Library” ~  where to find Gaskell in print, online, on your iPhone,  on your iPod, and on film – she is Everywhere!  By the end of the tour you will know more about Gaskell than you thought possible and be the better for it!!  There is also the opportunity to win a Naxos recording of North and South by just making a comment on any of the blogs.  Enjoy yourself as we all wish a hearty Happy Birthday to Mrs. Gaskell!

********************

I wanted to see the place where Margaret grew to what she is,
even at the worst time of all,
when I had no hope of ever calling her mine…

North and South
*************

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865) is best known to us as the author of the then-controversial biography of Charlotte Bronte, where she laid bare the oddities of the Bronte household, publicizing the behavior of the semi-mad father and the destructive life and affairs of the son. But Gaskell was a well-respected and popular author in her own day; we have been seeing a resurgence of that popularity with the broadcast of Wives & Daughters (1999), North & South (2004) [the film that rocketed Richard Armitage to fame, and rightly so!], and Cranford (2007, 2009). So I give a very brief review of her life and works [this was originally posted here], followed by a select bibliography. 

Born in Cheshire to William Stevenson, a Unitarian minister, Elizabeth was raised by her aunt, the sister of her mother who died shortly after her birth.  The town of Knutsford and the country life she experienced there became her setting in Cranford and her “Hollingford” in North & South.  She married William Gaskell of Manchester, also a Unitarian minister, in 1832, had four daughters and one son, who died in infancy.  The loss of her son had a devastating effect on her and to keep herself from sinking into an ever-deeper depression, she took pen in hand and started to write.  She published her first book Mary Barton in 1848 (using the pseudonym Cotton Mather Mills), though there is some speculation that she actually started to write Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) first but put it aside to write the more socially conscious Mary Barton.  Gaskell, according to Lucy Stebbins, was chiefly concerned with the ethical question of ”The Lie”, i.e. a belief that “deception was the greatest obstacle to the sympathetic understanding which was her panacea for individual and class quarrels.” (1)  This reconciliation between individuals of different classes and between the wider world of masters and workers was her hope for humanity and it was this zeal that often led her into false sentiment in her novels and stories.(2)  But because she saw both sides of the labor question and pitied both the oppressor and the oppressed, she was thus able to portray with often explicit candor the realities of her world.  But Stebbins also says that life was too kind to her as a woman to make her a great artist.  Her tales of vengeance and remorse were written more to satisfy public taste, after she started publishing in Dickens’ Household Words.  And David Cecil calls Gaskell “a typical Victorian woman….a wife and mother”….he emphasizes her femininity, which he says gives her the strengths of her detail and a “freshness of outlook” in her portrayals of the country gentry, while at the same time this femininity limits her imagination.  In comparing her to Jane Austen, Cecil writes: 

         It is true Mrs. Gaskell lived a narrow life, but Jane Austen, living a life just as narrow, was able to make works of major art out of it.  Jane Austen…was a woman of very abnormal penetration and intensity of genius. ….. [Gaskell] cannot, as Jane Austen did, make one little room an everywhere; pierce through the surface facts of a village tea-party to reveal the universal laws of human conduct that they illustrate.  If she [Gaskell] writes about a village tea-party, it is just a village tea-party…(3) 

   Cecil is critical of her melodrama, her “weakness for a happy ending”, her overlong works that lack imagination and passion.  But he does credit her four major works (Sylvia’s Lovers, Cranford, Wives & Daughters, and Cousin Phillis) as classic and worthy English domestic novels.  

[Cranford, illustrated by Hugh Thomson.  London : Macmillan, 1891..
This copy is also available at the Illustrated Cranford site. ]

Anne Thackeray Ritchie, in her introduction to Cranford, published in 1891, also compares Gaskell to Austen, and finds the latter lacking: 

Cranford is farther removed from the world, and yet more attuned to its larger interests than Meryton or Kellynch or Hartfield….Drumble, the great noisy manufacturing town, is its metropolis, not Bath with its successions of card parties and Assembly Rooms.” …. and on love, “there is more real feeling in these few signs of what once was, than in all the Misses Bennett’s youthful romances put together…only Miss Austen’s very sweetest heroines (including her own irresistible dark-eyed self, in her big cap and faded kerchief) are worthy of this old place….”  and later, “it was because she had written Mary Barton that some deeper echoes reach us in Cranford than are to be found in any of Jane Austen’s books, delightful though they be. (4) 

Margaret Lane in her wonderful book of essays on biography, Purely for Pleasure [which also includes the essay "Jane Austen's Sleight-of-hand"], has two essays on Mrs. Gaskell.  Lane calls her one of the greatest novelists of the time, and especially praises Wives & Daughters over Cranford for its stature, sympathies, mature grasp of character and its humour, and its effect of “creating the illusion of a return to a more rigid but also more stable and innocent world than ours” and we feel refreshed in spirit after a reading. (5) 

Wives & Daughters, Gaskell’s last work, and considered her finest, was published as a serial novel in Cornhill, the last unfinished part appearing in January 1866.  Gaskell had literally dropped dead in the middle of a spoken sentence at the age of 55, and the work remained unfinished, with only a long note from the Cornhill editor following the last serial installment.  Wives and Daughters tells the story of Molly Gibson and her new stepsister Cynthia, and their coming of age in the male-dominated mid-Victorian society of “Hollingford.” 

But it is Lane’s essay on “Mrs. Gaskell’s Task” in which she so highly praises Gaskell’s achievement in her biography of Charlotte Bronte.  While Gaskell obviously suppressed some facts (the letters to M. Heger) and exaggerated others (Mr. Bronte as a father and Branwell as a son), Lane says “her great biography remains a stirring and noble work, one of the first in our language…. and it is in essence ‘truer’ than anything about the Brontes which has been written since…”(6) 

Such contrary opinions!…certainly reminiscent of Austen’s admirers and critics!   Perhaps as Pam Morris says in her introduction to W&D, “Gaskell resists any simple categorization…her work ranges across the narrative forms of realism and fairytale, protest fiction and pastoralism, melodrama and the domestic novel.”(7) 

_______________________________________ 

Notes:
1.  Lucy Poate Stebbins. A Victorian Album: Some lady Novelists of the Period (Columbia, 1946) p. 96.
2.  Ibid.
3.  David Cecil.  Victorian Novelists: Essays in Revaluation (Chicago, 1962) p. 187.
4.  Anne Thackeray Ritchie.  Preface to Cranford (Macmillan, 1927) pp. vii, xix.
5.  Margaret Lane.  Purely for Pleasure (Hamish Hamilton, 1966)  p. 153.
6.  Ibid, p. 170.
7.  Pam Morris.  Introduction to Wives and Daughters (Penguin, 2001) p. vii. 
                                                            *****************

I append below a “Select Bibliography” of Gaskell’s works, biographies and critical works, as well as links to what can be found online, iPhone, audio, and film – and most everything Gaskell wrote IS available.  Many of her writings were originally published in the periodicals of the day, such as Howitt’s Journal, Sartain’s Union Magazine, Harper’s Monthly Magazine, Dickens’s Household Words and All the Year Round, and Cornhill Magazine; and many of these writings were later published in collections of tales. And, like Dickens, some of her novels were originally published in serial form [Cranford, North and South, Wives and Daughters].  I list below the novels as first published in book form, a list of short stories and essays with date of original appearance in print, and a list of current editions you can find in your local bookstore [I list only the Oxford, Penguin and Broadview editions – there are many others and reprints of all kinds – best to look for an edition with a good introduction and notes.]  There is a lot of information here, with links to even more information available on the web – there is no lack of writing on Mrs. Gaskell! – But what I really want to emphasize are her short stories, which often get lost in the hoopla about her major novels – there are many as you will see, with links appended – try some – you will not be disappointed!  

****************************

Bibliography: Selected list   [see links below for more complete bibliographies] 

Works:  Books, Short Story Collections 

  1. Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life. 2 vols. London: Chapman & Hall, 1848; 1 volume, New York: Harper, 1848.
  2. Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras: A Lancashire Tale. London: Hamilton, Adams, 1850.
  3. The Moorland Cottage. London: Chapman & Hall, 1850; New York: Harper, 1851.
  4. Ruth: A Novel. 3 vols. London: Chapman & Hall, 1853; 1 volume, Boston: Ticknor, Reed & Fields, 1853.  
  5. Cranford. London: Chapman & Hall, 1853; New York: Harper, 1853.
  6. Hand and Heart; and Bessy’s Troubles at Home.  London:  Chapman and Hall, 1855.
  7. Lizzie Leigh and Other Tales. London: Chapman & Hall, 1855; Philadelphia: Hardy, 1869.
  8. North and South. 2 vols.  London: Chapman & Hall, 1855; 1 vol., New York: Harper, 1855.
  9. The Life of Charlotte Brontë; Author of “Jane Eyre,” “Shirley,” “Villette” etc.. 2 vols. London: Smith, Elder, 1857; New York: Appleton, 1857.
  10. My Lady Ludlow, A Novel. New York: Harper, 1858;  republished as Round the Sofa. 2 vols. London: Low, 1859.
  11. Right at Last, and Other Tales.  London: Low, 1860; New York: Harper, 1860.
  12. Lois the Witch and Other Tales. Leipzig: Tauchnitz 1861.
  13. Sylvia’s Lovers.  3 vols.  London: Smith, Elder, 1863; 1 vol. New York: Dutton, 1863.
  14. A Dark Night’s Work.  London: Smith, Elder, 1863; New York: Harper, 1863.
  15. Cousin Phillis: A Tale. New York: Harper, 1864; republished as Cousin Phillis and Other Tales.  London: Smith, Elder, 1865.
  16. The Grey Woman and Other Tales.  London: Smith, Elder, 1865; New York: Harper, 1882.
  17. Wives and Daughters: An Every-Day Story.  2 vols.  London: Smith, Elder, 1866; 1 vol., New York: Harper, 1866.

 

Works:  Short Stories and Essays [in order of publication] – most of these are available online at The Gaskell Web, Project Gutenberg, IPhone (Stanza – Munsey’s), etc. 

  1. On Visiting the Grave of my Stillborn Little Girl (1837)
  2. Sketches Among the Poor, No.1 (1837)
  3. Notes on Cheshire Customs (1839)
  4. Description of Clopton Hall (1840)
  5. Life In Manchester:  Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras (1847)
  6. The Sexton’s hero (1847)
  7. Emerson’s lectures (1847) [attributed]
  8. Christmas Storms and Sunshine (1848)
  9. Hand and Heart (1849)
  10. The Last Generation in England (1849)
  11. Martha Preston (1850) – re-written as “Half a Lifetime Ago”
  12. Lizzie Leigh  (1850)
  13. The Well of Pen-Morfa (1850)
  14. The Heart of John Middleton (1850)
  15. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions (1851)
  16. Disappearances (1851)
  17. Our Society in Cranford (1851)
  18. A Love Affair at Cranford (1852)
  19. Bessy’s Troubles at Home (1852)
  20. Memory at Cranford (1852)
  21. Visiting at Cranford (1852)
  22. The Shah’s English Gardener (1852)
  23. The Old Nurse’s Story (1852)
  24. Cumberland Sheep Shearers (1853)
  25. The Great Cranford Panic (1853)
  26. Stopped Payment at Cranford (1853)
  27. Friends in Need (1853)
  28. A Happy Return to Cranford (1853)
  29. Bran (1853)
  30. Morton Hall (1853)
  31. Traits and Stories of the Huguenots (1853)
  32. My French Master (1853)
  33. The Squire’s Story (1853)
  34. The Scholar’s Story (1853)
  35. Uncle Peter (1853)
  36. Modern Greek Songs (1854)
  37. Company Manners (1854)
  38. An Accursed race (1855)
  39. Half a lifetime Ago (1855) [see above “Martha Preston”]
  40. The Poor Clare (1856)
  41. The Siege of the Black Cottage (1857) – attributed
  42. Preface to Maria Susanna Cummins Mabel Vaughan (1857)
  43. The Doom of the Griffiths (1858)
  44. An Incident at Niagara Falls (1858)
  45. The Sin of a Father (1858) – re-titled Right at Last in collection
  46. The Manchester Marriage (1858)
  47. The Half-Brothers (1859) – in Round the Sofa collection
  48. Lois the Witch (1859)
  49. The Ghost in the Garden Room (1859) – re-titled “The Crooked Branch” in Right at Last collection
  50. Curious if True (1860)
  51. The Grey Woman (1861)
  52. Preface to C. Augusto Vecchi, Garibladi at Caprera (1862)
  53. Six Weeks at Heppenheim (1862)
  54. Shams (1863)
  55. An Italian Institution (1863)
  56. The Cage at Cranford (18863)
  57. Obituary of Robert Gould Shaw (1863)
  58. How the First Floor Went to Crowley Castle (1863)
  59. French Life (1864)
  60. Some Passages from the History of the Chomley Family (1864)
  61. Columns of Gossip from Paris (1865)
  62. A Parson’s Holiday (1865)
  63. Two Fragments of Ghost Stories [n.d]

Works ~ Collections: 

  • The Works of Mrs. Gaskell, Knutsford Edition, edited by A. W. Ward. 8 vols. London: Smith, Elder, 1906-1911.
  • The Novels and Tales of Mrs. Gaskell, edited by C. K. Shorter. 11 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1906-1919.
  • The Works of Elizabeth Gaskell, ed. Joanne Shattuck, et.al.  10 vols.  London:  Pickering and Chatto, 2005-2006.  Click here for more info on this set.

Currently in print ~ Individual Works and Collections: [only the Penguin, Oxford and Broadview Press editions are noted here – there are a number of available editions of Gaskell’s individual works – search on Abebooks, Amazon, or visit your local bookseller; and there are any number of older and out-of-print editions available at these same sources!]

  • Cousin Phillis and Other Stories.  Intro by Heather Glen. Oxford, 2010.
  • Cranford.  Intro by Patricia Ingham.  Penguin 2009; intro by Charlotte Mitchell.  Oxford, 2009;  Intro by Elizabeth Langland.  Broadview, 2010.
  • Gothic Tales. Intro by Laura Kranzler.  Penguin 2001.
  • Life of Charlotte Bronte.  Intro by Elizabeth Jay.  Penguin 1998; Intro by Angus Easson.  Oxford, 2009.
  • Mary Barton.  Intro by MacDonald Daly.  Penguin, 1997; Intro by Shirley Foster.  Oxford, 2009;  Intro by Jennifer Foster.  Broadview, 2000.
  • North and South.  Intro by Patricia Ingham.  Penguin, 1996; Intro by Sally Shuttleworth.  Oxford, 2008.
  • Ruth.  Intro by Angus Easson.  Penguin, 1998; Intro by Alan Shelston.  Oxford, 2009.
  • Sylvia’s lovers.  Intro by Shirley Foster.  Penguin, 1997;  Intro by Andrew Sanders.  Oxford, 2008.
  • Wives and Daughters.  Intro by Pam Morris.  Penguin, 1997


What’s Gaskell Worth Now?

Austen’s works show up at auction fairly regularly, but what about Gaskell – how does she compare to the high prices that Austen’s first editions command?  There is an upcoming Sotheby’s auction set for October 28 in London:  The Library of an English Bibliophile, Part I – all of Austen’s first editions are in the sale with high-end estimates; there are three Gaskell titles in the sale, so this gives a good idea of value:

  • Mary Barton.  London: Chapman and Hall, 1848.  First edition.  est. 4,000 – 6,000 GBP
  • Ruth.  London:  Chapman and hall, 1853.  First edition.  est. 2,000-3,000 GBP
  • North and South.  London:  Chapman and hall, 1855.  First edition.  est. 2,000-3,000 GBP.

 Letters / Diaries: 

  • Chapple, J.A.V. and Arthur Pollard, eds.  The Letters of Mrs. Gaskell. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1966.
  • Chapple, J. A.V.; assisted by by J. G. Sharpes. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Portrait in Letters.  Manchester: 1980.
  • Chapple, John and Alan Shelston, eds. Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2001.
  • Chapple J. A. V. and Anita Wilson, eds.  Private Voices: the Diaries of Elizabeth Gaskell and Sophia Holland.  Keele:  Keele UP, 1996.
  • Whitehill, Jane, ed.  The Letters of Mrs. Gaskell and Charles Eliot Norton, 1855-1865.  London: Oxford UP: 1932.

Bibliographies: 

  • Selig, R. L.  Elizabeth Gaskell; A Reference Guide.  Boston: G.K. Hall, 1977.
  • Jeffery Welch, Elizabeth Gaskell: An Annotated Bibliography, 1929-75. New York: Garland, 1977.
  • Weyant, Nancy S.  Elizabeth Gaskell: An Annotated Bibliography, 1976-1991. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1994.
  • ______________.   Elizabeth Gaskell: An Annotated Guide to English Language Sources, 1992-2001.  Metuchen, NJ:  Scarecrow, 2004. 
    See also Weyant’s online Supplement, 2002-2010 [updated semi-annually]
  • See the Gaskell Web page for an online bibliography

Biographies: 

  • Chapple, John.  Elizabeth Gaskell: A Portrait in Letters.  Manchester:  Manchester UP, 1980.
  • ___________. Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years.  Manchester:  Manchester UP, 1997.
  • Easson, Angus.  Elizabeth Gaskell. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979.
  • Ffrench, Yvonne.  Mrs. Gaskell.  London:  Home & Van Thal, 1949.
  • Foster, Shirley.  Elizabeth Gaskell:  A Literary Life.  Houndsmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
  • Gerin, Winifred. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Biography. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976.
  • Handley, Graham.  An Elizabeth Gaskell Chronology.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.
  • Hopkins, Annette Brown. Elizabeth Gaskell: Her Life and Work. London: Lehmann, 1952.
  • Pollard, Arthur.  Mrs. Gaskell: Novelist and Biographer. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1966.
  • Uglow, Jenny.  Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories. London: Faber and Faber, 1993.
  • Unsworth, Anna.  Elizabeth Gaskell: An Independent Woman.  London:  Minerva, 1996.

Studies: 

  • Barry, James Donald. “Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell,” in Victorian Fiction: A Second Guide to Research, edited by George H. Ford. New York: MLA, 1978.
  • Beer, P. Reader, I Married Him. . . . London: Macmillan, 1974.
  • Cecil, David.  Victorian Novelists: Essays in Revaluation.  Chicago, 1962.
  • Craik, W. A.  Elizabeth Gaskell and the English Provincial Novel. London: Methuen, 1975.
  • Easson, Angus, ed.  Elizabeth Gaskell: The Critical Heritage.  London, 1992.
  • Ganz, Margaret. Elizabeth Gaskell: The Artist in Conflict. New York: Twayne, 1969.
  • Lane, Margaret.  Purely for Pleasure.  London: Hamish Hamilton, 1966.  See chapters on “Mrs. Gaskell’s Task” and “Mrs. Gaskell:  Wives and Daughters’.
  • Lansbury, Coral. Elizabeth Gaskell: The Novel of Social Crisis.  London:  Paul Elek, 1975.
  • Lucas, John. “Mrs. Gaskell and Brotherhood,” in Tradition and Tolerance in Nineteenth Century Fiction, by D. Howard, J. Lucas, and J. Goode. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966.
  • Matus, Jill L. The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Gaskell.  Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007.
  • Morris, Pam.  “Introduction to Wives and Daughters”.  New York: Penguin, 2001.
  • Ritchie, Anne Thackeray.  “Preface to Cranford”.  New Edition.  London: Macmillan, 1907.
  • Rubenius, Aina.  The Woman Question in Mrs. Gaskell’s Life and Work.  Uppsala: Lundequist ; Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1950; reprinted by Russell and Russell in 1973.
  • Sharps, John Geoffrey Sharps. Mrs. Gaskell’s Observation and Invention: A Study of the Non-Biographic Works.  London: Linden, 1970.
  • Spencer, Jane.  Elizabeth Gaskell.  London: Macmillan, 1993.
  • Stebbins, Lucy Poate. A Victorian Album: Some Lady Novelists of the Period.  New York: Columbia UP, 1946.
  • Wright, Edgar. Mrs. Gaskell: The Basis for Reassessment.  London: Oxford UP, 1965.

Papers: 

Links:  

 

Ebooks:  

  1. Mary Barton
  2. North & South
  3. Cranford 
  4. Wives & Daughters  
  5. Life of Charlotte Bronte
  1. An Accursed Race
  2. Cousin Phillis
  3. Cranford
  4. Curious, if True Strange Tales
  5. A Dark Night’s Work
  6. Doom of the Griffiths
  7. The Grey Woman and other Tales
  8. Half a Life-Time Ago
  9. The Half-Brothers
  10. A House to Let
  11. Life of Charlotte Brontë — Volume 1
  12. Life of Charlotte Bronte — Volume 2
  13. Lizzie Leigh
  14. Mary Barton
  15. The Moorland Cottage
  16. My Lady Ludlow
  17. North and South
  18. The Poor Clare
  19. Round the Sofa
  20. Ruth
  21. Sylvia’s Lovers — Complete 
  22. Sylvia’s Lovers — Volume 1 
  23. Sylvia’s Lovers — Volume 2
  24. Sylvia’s Lovers — Volume 3
  25. Victorian Short Stories: Stories of Successful Marriages (as Contributor)
  26. Wives and Daughters  
  1. Cranford    
  2. Dark Night’s Work, A
  3. Doom of the Griffiths, The
  4. Half a Life-Time Ago
  5. Lizzie Leigh
  6. Mary Barton    
  7. My Lady Ludlow
  8. Poor Clare, The
  9. Wives And Daughters    
  10. An Accursed Race
  11. Half-Brothers, The    

Ebook editions at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Borders: 

  • The [Kindle] Works of Elizabeth Gaskell – at Amazon, for $3.99 you can download most of her works to your Kindle; but if you search further, there are several free downloads of the individual novels, and other various collections; review the contents before selecting.
  • Barnes & Noble:  same as Amazon, some collections for $3.99, many free options.
  • Borders:  has various similar options 

iPhone Apps:   

Whatever you use for books on your iPhone, there are plenty of free Gaskells available.  I use Stanza, which is a free app [there are many others – visit your iTunes store and search “books” under Apps and see what I mean!], and from there you can choose the following: Feedbooks has several; Project Gutenberg has the same as online noted above; but Munsey’s takes first prize for having the most – seems to have all the novels and stories as best I can make out – so if you are stranded at an airport or in stopped traffic, what better way to pass the time than a Gaskell short story?! 
 

Audiobooks:  

  1. Cousin Phillis (unabridged)
  2. Cranford (unabridged)
  3. North and South (abridged)
  4. North and South (unabridged)
  5. Wives and Daughters (unabridged)
  6. Wives and Daughters (abridged)
  • Silksounds:  has only My Lady Ludlow, read by Susannah York  [very good!]
  • CSA Word:  Best of Women’s Short Stories, vol. 1& 2.  Read by Harriet Walter [a.k.a. Fanny Dashwood] Includes Gaskell’s “Right at Last” and “The Half Brothers”; CSA Word also has an abridged version of Mary Barton [read by Maggie Ollerenshaw] and North and South [read by Jenny Agutter].
  • LibriVox:
  1. North & South
  2. Other Gaskell works in various states of completion 


Movies:
 [see the various blog posts listed below for movie reviews]

  1. Wives & Daughters (1999)
  2. North & South (2004) – with Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe ~ sigh!
  3. North & South (1975)  – with Patrick Stewart and Rosalind Shanks
  4. Cranford (1972) 
  5. Cranford  / Return to Cranford (2007, 2009)
  6. Cousin Phillis (1982) -
  7. The Gaskell Collection – DVDs  – includes 7 discs:  W&D, N&S, CRANFORD and all special features.

******************************* 

Well, there’s a fine list for winter reading, listening and viewing! And somewhere in the middle of all that, treat yourself to a re-watch of Armitage in North and South! [and then of course READ it again ... here is a link to an older blog post about the book and movie

 ************************

This is a rather quick list of goodies – if any of you know of a particular edition of a book, or an ebook, or an audio edition you particularly like, or a movie that I do not mention, please let me know so I can add it to the list – thank you! 

Follow this link to to the next blog on the Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Blog Tour by Tony Grant at London Calling:  Plymouth Grove – A Visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s home in Manchester

***********************

The Gaskell Blog Tour:  Here is the complete tour through the 15 blog posts celebrating Gaskell’s Birthday today: and remember that one lucky commenter will win a copy of an unabridged edition of North and South by Naxos AudioBooks read by Clare Willie. That’s 18 hours of Margaret Hale and John Thornton sparring and sparking in Gaskell’s most acclaimed work.  Here is a list of participants. You can visit them in any order and all comments during the contest will count toward your chance to win. Good luck and Happy Birthday Mrs. Gaskell!

Biography

Novels/Biography

Novellas

Resources

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.” Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters

[Posted by Deb]

Read Full Post »

Updated! – I completely missed the following: The 2010 Jane Austen Tour at Feelin’ Feminine - the competition began July 19 and runs through August 3rd, so give your creative side full-throttle and see what you can come up with… click here for entry categories [fashion, crafts, visuals, character studies, etc...]

****************

I didn’t do a separate post on the latest issue of Jane Austen’s Regency World - another fully-packed , beautifully presented collection of articles – sometimes we think that everything worth reading / knowing about Jane Austen is on the Internet – and it is such a delight to get this journal every other month and just savor this hand-held treat, to be taken anywhere anytime without needing a “connection” to anything! – so in this issue:

  • Maggie Lane article on grandparents in Austen
  • the story of Queen Adelaide, wife to William IV [successor to George IV]
  • the Austen family wills
  • the business of smuggling
  • Jane Austen on ebooks
  • Henry Cope, the “Little Green Man or Bath Bugaboo”
  • Mags of Austenblog on Austen vs. the Brontes [guess who wins!]
  • letters, Society news, newspaper reprints from 1802, tidbits*

* this news item for instance:  the Austen statue in Lyme Regis  [where I genuflected and then burst into tears] has disappeared during renovation work and no one seems to know where it might be – so if any of you out there may have inadvertently taken off with it , you are to contact Maggie Lane at JARW [in confidence of course]  – and this article from March 2010, “Have you Seen Jane Austen’s Head?”  [unfortunately my picture of said head is on a slide]

[Image from JARW Magazine, No. 46, p.4]

************

This year the 200th anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth is being celebrated ~  here are a few links to follow the festivities – if you are in the Manchester area, there is a lot to choose from:

***********

Amanda Vickery, author of A Gentleman’s Daughter and Behind Closed Doors, can be heard at BBC4 [just seven days left!] on “Wicked Women” – Voices from the Old Bailey.  The upcoming radio piece on July 29 is on the voices of the children who founds themselves in court.  Click here for Ms. Vickery’s website to keep current on her speaking schedule.

*****************

The Sotheby’s auction houses have been running amok with letters, cookery and decorative arts items selling like they were going two-for-one – here are just a few for browsing and drooling:

Regency Gilt-Bronze Candlesticks – £2000

************

And if you are really into your laundry and while scrubbing and folding and ironing you care to give a thought to how it used to be done, the fabulous website Old & Interesting has a new post on the History of Starching Fabric – now what would Henry Tilney have to say about starching muslin…?

*************

The Jane Austen Centre’s website is a treasure trove of all things Jane – their online Magazine includes constantly updated articles on fashion, recipes, history, book reviews [yours truly was just honored to be asked to publish my review of Jennifer Forest's Jane Austen's Sewing Box], biographies, craft projects and the best of all, from the pen of Mags of Austenblog,  There Must be Murder, a 12-part novella!

************

There seems to be an iphone game of P&P and Zombies - but I cannot handle this at all – this is one application my iphone will have to live without – back to the basics for me, a la Austenprose’s efforts to save us all

[Posted by Deb]

 

 

Read Full Post »

North-and-South cover

I think I must be the only costume-drama-loving-female in all of America who did not see the 2004 (2005 USA) adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South – where my head was that year I do not know – and add to that a further confession of never having read the book! – I am ashamed of myself!  Can I have lived this long so in the dark?  Are my English degrees so worthless in the light of this omission? 

I have a good number of Gaskell’s books on my shelves, but there they sit awaiting that future day to begin my Gaskell immersion.  But all this endless chatter on the airwaves [as well as a few friends imploring me to see the movie – largely a Richard Armitage thing…],  I finally broke one of my cardinal rules – I saw the movie before reading the book.  There were advantages of course to this sequence – every appearance of John Thornton on the page most pleasantly brought the absolutely lovely Mr. Armitage to mind – not a bad punishment for breaking this long-held rule of mine! – but I digress…

 The story [for those of you more in the sand than me…] – Margaret Hale, a young woman from rural southern England [Austen’s Hampshire to be exact], daughter of a clergyman, proud of her roots and her class, must adjust to the changes in her life when her father resigns from his clerical post and moves the family to the northern industrial town of Milton [Gaskell's fictitonalized Manchester].  Margaret gradually discovers her own strengths in taking on the many domestic duties of her now ill mother and those of their former servants.  But Margaret carries with her the prejudices of the gentrified South with her “queenly” snobbish views of the industrial North and the manufacturers and tradesmen who run the mills.  She is soon introduced to John Thornton, a self-made “Master” of one of the cotton mills and a local magistrate, well respected by his peers and his employees, yet aware of his shortcomings in the social and intellectual worlds outside of Milton.  He comes to Reverend Hale for tutoring and intellectual stimulation – but it is Margaret who soon captures his heart, his passions aroused in spite of himself, all too sure of his own unworthiness in her eyes…

n&s- margaret

Margaret opened the door and went in with the straight, fearless, dignified presence habitual to her.  She felt no awkwardness; she had too much the habits of society for that.  Here was a person come on business to her father; and, as he was one who had shown himself obliging, she was disposed to treat him with a full measure of civility.  Mr. Thornton was a good deal more surprised and discomfited than she.  Instead of a quiet, middle-aged clergyman, a young lady came forward with frank dignity – a young lady of a different type to most of those he was in the habit of seeing.  Her dress was very plain: a close straw bonnet of the best material and shape, trimmed with white ribbon; a dark silk gown, without any trimming or flounce; a large Indian shawl, which hung about her in long heavy folds, and which she wore as an empress wears her drapery.  He did not understand who she was, as he caught the simple, straight, unabashed look, which showed that his being there was of no concern to the beautiful countenance, and called up no flush of surprise to the pale ivory of the complexion.  He had heard that Mr. hale had a daughter, but he had imagined that she was a little girl …  Mr. Thornton was in habits of authority himself, but she seemed to assume some kind of rule over him at once…. [p 72-3]   He almost said to himself that he did not like her, before their conversation ended; he tried so to compensate himself for the mortified feeling, that while he looked upon her with an admiration he could not repress, she looked at him with proud indifference, taking him, he thought for what, in his irritation, he told himself he was – a great rough fellow, with not a grace or a refinement about him.  Her quiet coldness of demeanour he interpreted into contemptuousness, and resented it is his heart … [p.74]

 And Margaret’s view of Thornton:

 “Oh! I hardly know what he is like,” said Margaret lazily; too tired to tax her powers of description much.  And then rousing herself, she said, “He is a tall, broad-shouldered man, about- how old, papa?”…  “About thirty, with a face that is neither exactly plain, nor yet handsome, nothing remarkable – not quite a gentleman; but that was hardly to be expected.”… “altogether a man who seems made for his niche, mamma; sagacious and strong, as becomes a great tradesman.”

n&s first look

 

 Ahh!  the pride and prejudices are set on each side, each thwarting their developing relationship – and a scenario not unlike Austen’s Pride & Prejudice unfolds.  Margaret’s ingrained dislike of northern ways are gradually tempered by her sympathetic friendship with a family of mill workers and her growing appreciation for Thornton’s true nature;  and Thornton’s own views of his employees and his responsibility to them are enlarged by Margaret’s very “democratic” views of an industrialized social system gone awry.  It is a compelling read – [alert! there are some spoilers here ]– 

Gaskell wrote North and South in 1854-5 – it appeared in serialized novel form in Dickens’s Household Words [Gaskell felt the ending was “unnatural” and “deformed” (1) – she added and edited for its publication as a book in 1855].  North and South is another of her works to focus on the social ills of the day – religious doubt; “Master” vs. hands and accompanying union struggles; male vs. female in the male-dominated industrial world; the responsibility of the owner / ruling classes to involve themselves in the lives of the less fortunate.  But this novel has a more romantic telling than her previous works and perhaps why it remains one of her most enduring titles.. [ See my previous post on Gaskell for some background.] 

And this comparison to Austen’s Pride & Prejudice cannot be ignored [just the title alone echoes Austen’s work] — Jenny Uglow in her introduction to the book (2) and in her fabulous biography of Gaskell (3) called North and South an “industrialized Pride & Prejudice,” “sexy, vivid and full of suspense” (4) – and indeed this states the case most eloquently.  At last year’s JASNA AGM in Chicago on Austen’s legacy, Janine Barchas spoke on Gaskell’s North and South being the first of many Pride & Prejudice clones (5).  The basic formula of P&P is what keeps people coming back for more, an annual re-read one of life’s many pleasures – and one can readily make a list of the similarities, all too clear despite Gaskell’s never making mention of her debt to Austen – this conflict of pride and prejudices, though often a gender reversal in Gaskell’s work [see Barchas's article for a complete analysis of Margaret as Darcy and Thornton as Elizabeth], the awakening of their passions, and the emotional growth of Margaret and Thornton, the similarities in the secondary characters [Thornton’s sister Fanny is certainly as silly as Lydia; Mrs. Thornton’s visit to Margaret is almost a word for word Lady Catherine exhorting Elizabeth]; Thornton anonymously saving Margaret from a shameful exposure just as Darcy saves Elizabeth by forcing Wickham to do right by Lydia; and a final resolution of two people who finally overcome their own limited mindsets;  and of course the turning point in both novels is the proposal scene, halfway through each book, the language similar, the devastating results the same.

But in Austen, who never felt comfortable with writing what she did not know, the mind of Darcy is never fully exposed to the reader [and the reason for the endless stream of sequels from Darcy’s point of view! –  and also why the Andrew Davies adaptation with a glaring, agonized Colin Firth has such a strong hold on us all…] – but Gaskell was no prim Victorian in bringing the thoughts of Thornton to the page – he is clearly obsessed with Margaret from their first meeting noted above –  and when he is visiting the Hales for tea, he focuses relentlessly on her arm and her bracelet: 

She stood by the tea-table in a light-coloured muslin gown, which had a good deal of pink about it.  She looked as if she was not attending to the conversation, but solely busy with the tea-cups, among which her round ivory hands moved with pretty, noiseless daintiness.  She had a bracelet on one taper arm, which would fall down over her round wrist.  Mr. Thornton watched the replacing of this troublesome ornament with far more attention that he listened to her father.  It seemed as if it fascinated him to see her push it up impatiently until it tightened her soft flesh; and then to mark the loosening – the fall.  He could almost have exclaimed – “there it goes again!”  [p. 95]

Thornton watches her, listens to her, seeks her out, thinks of her all the time, and only when he believes he must protect her virtue does he express these pent-up feelings to her.  Her rejection of him is devastating, though only unexpected because he believes she can do no less than submit to him – Gaskell clearly gives us a picture of a passionate, inconsolable man, almost beautiful in his agony – we do not need an Andrew Davies to draw this picture for us.  It is as though Gaskell needed to put some finishing touches on the Darcy of our imaginations…

His heart throbbed loud and quick.  Strong man as he was, he trembled at the anticipation of what he had to say, and how it might be received.  She might droop, and flush, and flutter to his arms, as her natural home and resting-place.  One moment he glowed with impatience at the thought that she might do this – the next he feared a passionate rejection, the very idea of which withered up his future with so deadly a blight that he refused to think of it…

He offers his love, she rejects him:

 “Yes, I feel offended.  You seem to fancy that my conduct of yesterday was a personal act between you and me; and that you come to thank me for it, instead of perceiving, as a gentleman would – yes! a gentleman,” she repeated….. – he says she does not understand him; she says “I do not care to understand” –  [p.242-3] … and she afterward thinks, “how dared he say that he would love her still, even though she shook him off with contempt?” [p.245]

 

As only Hollywood [and the BBC] can do, there is the usual mucking about with the novel – a few changes [how they first meet, how they at last connect for starters!],  deletions and insertions, a few character shifts, to make the movie more palatable to a contemporary audience – and though one can always quibble with the results of these probable midnight discussions [and I so often ask – WHY did they DO that?  Why not just leave the book as it is, PLEASE!] – but that all aside, this movie is just lovely, no way around it… Daniela Denby-Ashe is a beautiful heroic and compassionate Margaret, and Richard Armitage SO perfect as John Thornton – he brings Thornton’s internal life so beautifully to the screen – it is a pitch-perfect performance [and the spring-board for his subsequent career – not to mention the Armitage online sites, the Facebook pages, YouTube concoctions, endless bloggings, women the world over in a communal swoon about this man!] [and alas! we ALL suffer for his NOT being the latest now-in-production Knightley incarnation…]  Really, this all makes the 1995 Darcy-fever / Colin Firth insanity look like a kindergarten flirtation.  I should just do an Armitage post with all the many links, pictures, readings – but I AM struggling here to stick to the book! 

[but as an aside, if you haven’t seen Armitage as the evil Guy of Gisborne in BBC’s latest Robin Hood, get thee hence to your nearest video store and see the first two seasons now – there was never such fun in obsessing over the ultimate bad guy – a man just shouldn’t look and sound this lovely! – and after that, see The Impressionists [he is the young Monet], and then for a complete hoot see the last two shows of The Vicar of Dibley…] – but back to North and South [who can resist?], is there any scene in ANY movie to compare to “Look back – Look back at me” ?? !

N&S look back at me

[though even I have to admit it has to run a close second to Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember at his wrenching discovery of the painting in Deborah Kerr’s bedroom]…

But again, I digress! –  Gaskell has given us a story similar to Pride & Prejudice in the basics, but set in the northern Victorian world she depicts so graphically – this is darker than Austen, without her language and ironic wit, there are certainly no Mr. Collinses around to give us needed comic relief [though on second thought, Fanny Thornton jumps right off the page as a very real self-absorbed very ridiculous girl and there are indeed many moments of humor] – this is a fabulous read, not easily forgotten with its powerful romance with its strong sexual tensions and the very real social issues of the time with such engaging characters in the lower class world of the mill workers.  Read this book – then buy the movie [you will want to see it more than once!] – and thank you Richard Armitage for bringing me to this book in the most delightful roundabout way!

N&S kiss

 

Notes and Further reading: 

1.  Uglow, Jenny.  Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories.  NY:  Farrar Straus Giroux, 1993, p. 368.

2.  Gaskell, Elizabeth.  North and South, with an introduction by Jenny Uglow.  London:  Vintage Books, 2008. [page numbers cited are to this edition]

north and south vintage cover

3.  Uglow, Jenny. 1993 biography.

4.  Gaskell, Elizabeth.  North and South, 2008 edition, p. xvi.

5.  Barchas, Janine.  “Mrs. Gaskell’s North and South: Austen’s Early Legacy.”  Persuasions, No. 30, 2008, pp. 53-66.

 Movies: 

1. North and South, BBC 2004 [2005 USA] starring Daniela Denby-Ashe and Richard Armitage [see Imdb.com]

2. North and South, BBC 1975, starring Rosalie Shanks and Patrick Stewart [see Imdb.com]

Links: [a very select few to Gaskell, the book, the movie, and finally Richard Armitage, who indeed requires a post all his own...]

Read Full Post »

The only thing I’ve ever read about Mrs Gaskell is the involving biography by Jenny Uglow. I’ve never read any of her work, and just wasn’t in the mood for Wives and Daughters when that aired last year. But Cranford won me over last night. Sure some of it is a bit beyond belief (could a cat REALLY swallow that amount of lace???), but the idea of a village with such a force of women – from gossipy to trendsetting – well, what female viewer wouldn’t consider the hours spent watching them hours well-spent indeed.

One reason I got involved in JASNA was that research into diaries (the earliest is 1814) of Mary Gosling brought up the fact that her brother-in-law was Jane’s nephew, James-Edward Austen-Leigh (he married Emma Smith, Mary’s sister-in-law, in 1828). But Mary lived until July 1842 — exactly the period of last night’s episode of Cranford (it began in June 1842 and ended in August 1842). Being able to picture a young Mary (she was born in 1800) in the fashions of Pride and Prejudice or Emma and later in the early-Victorian era fashions of Cranford really gets the brain juices flowing. 25 yards to make a dress! the different materials (and their differing prices…) for bonnets! the excessive darkness – yet still the needlewoman plies her needle! All of these items have to be thought of when one contemplates recreating the life of someone who lived 200 years ago.

Ms. Place IDs the gorgeous village used in filming: ‘the British Heritage village of Laycock’. I must say this village adds tremendously to the atmosphere of this production.

And the scenes really place you in the 1840s. In the Jenkyns household, the wide hearth of the era and the image of Mary reading by the light of the fire. The unrelenting darkness of interiors; the pools of light; the lonely lady of the manor; the lovelorn dutiful daughter/sister; the poor women who produced child after child; the servants who looked after the wealthier inhabitants; and you gotta love those poor (sedan) chairmen!

Mary Gosling lived in an era of change: from the horse-and-carriage to the age of steam trains; from war abroad to unrest at home. And Cranford well illustrates what life at such times of change could mean to people of a small village. I really feel for the still-in-the-18th-century patroness. Again, the strength of this program is in its wealth of women portrayed. And very hard not to think of Cassandra and Jane (had Jane lived to an older age) when watching the two Misses Jenkyns. When Miss Deborah died, my heart went out to Miss Matilda. I have no sister and cannot imagine what it must be like to live for one another, only to end up being the sister death left behind.

As an Austen-side note: nice to see Austen ‘veterans’ Greg Wise and Julia Sawalha. And it’s always a pleasure to see Julia MacKenzie and Barbara Flynn. Francesca Annis, Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins (a well-deserved BAFTA win) have long been favorites.

Ms. Place – who has read the book! – says the script remains kind of close to the original. All I can say about the production is, notice what a leisurely pace will do for a storyline; ditto some excellent casting (is there even one weak link in this production?). High standards DO pay off. I will say, I wish the “background” music was a little less intrusive at times. Overall, though, a lovingly-crafted adaptation.

BTW: 1905 saw the publication of CRANFORD: A PLAY by Marguerite Marington; see books.google. And don’t forget to check out Deb’s post on Gaskell, below. I clicked on the Cranford (novel) link Deb provided and read the first chapter; interesting to now have images in the mind, thanks to the teleplay, of the lives of Miss Jenkyns, Miss Jessie Brown, Captain Brown, et al. Reading this one chapter really makes plain how a series of scenarios can be crafted into a well-rounded script with some fidelity to the original.

UPDATE: In part 2, scenes were filmed at TRING PARK (in Hertfordshire), which has an Austen connection: it was the bridal home of Edward and Emma Austen, and their first few children were born there. When Edward’s aunt died and he assumed the Austen-Leigh name, he moved his family into his aunt’s former home, Scarlets. BUT: before Scarlets, before Speen, they lived with Emma’s mother Mrs Smith at Tring, the former home of her uncle, Sir Drummond Smith, Bart. Therefore, where Judi Dench trod, so in the past did Mary Gosling (Lady Smith), Emma & Edward Austen, his mother Mrs James Austen, and his sister Caroline. Small world sometimes…

Read Full Post »

PBS Masterpiece will be showing Cranford May 4, 11 & 18.  It has an all-star cast, to include Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton and others. [see PBS Masterpiece for a preview and cast information.]   Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865) is most known to us as the author of the then-controversial biography of Charlotte Bronte, where she laid bare the oddities of the Bronte household, publicizing the behavior of the semi-mad father and the destructive life and affairs of the son .   But she was a well-respected and popular author in her own day and we are now perhaps seeing a resurgence of that popularity with the broadcast of Wives & Daughters, North & South, and the soon-to-be-seen Cranford.  So I give a brief outline of her life and works, with a few references for further reading. 

Born in Cheshire to William Stevenson, a Unitarian minister, Elizabeth was raised by her aunt, the sister of her mother who died shortly after her birth.  The town of Knutsford and the country life she experienced there became her setting in Cranford and her “Hollingford” in North & South.  She married William Gaskell of Manchester, also a Unitarian minister, in 1832, had four daughters and one son, who died in infancy.  The loss of her son had a devastating effect on her and to keep herself from sinking into an ever-deeper depression, she took pen in hand and started to write.  She published her first book Mary Barton in 1848 (using the pseudonym Cotton Mather Mills), though there is some speculation that she actually started to write Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) first but put it aside to write the more socially-conscious Mary Barton.  Gaskell, according to Lucy Stebbins, was chiefly concerned with the ethical question of “The Lie”, i.e a belief that “deception was the greatest obstacle to the sympathetic understanding which was her panacea for individual and class quarrels.” (1)  This reconciliation between individuals of different classes and between the wider world of masters and workers was her hope for humanity and it was this zeal that often led her into false sentiment in her novels and stories.(2)  But because she saw both sides of the labor question and pitied both the oppressor and the oppressed, she was thus able to portray with often explicit candor the realities of her world.  But Stebbins also says that life was too kind to her as a woman to make her a great artist.  Her tales of vengeance and remorse were written more to satisfy public taste, after she started publishing in Dickens’ Household Words.  And David Cecil calls Gaskell “a typical Victorian woman….a wife and mother”….he emphasizes her femininity, which he says gives her the strengths of her detail and a “freshness of outlook” in her portrayals of the country gentry, while at the same time this femininity limits her imagination.  In comparing her to Jane Austen, Cecil writes:

         “It is true Mrs. Gaskell lived a narrow life, but Jane Austen, living a life just as narrow, was able to make works of major art out of it.  Jane Austen…was a woman of very abnormal penetration and intensity of genius. ….. [Gaskell] cannot, as Jane Austen did, make one little room an everywhere; pierce through the surface facts of a village tea-party to reveal the universal laws of human conduct that they illustrate.  If she [Gaskell] writes about a a village tea-party, it is just a village tea-party…”(3)

   Cecil is critical of her melodrama, her “weakness for a happy ending”, her overlong works that lack imagination and passion.  But he does credit her four major works (Sylvia’s Lovers, Cranford, Wives & Daughters, and Cousin Phillis) as classic and worthy English domestic novels. 

Anne Thackeray Ritchie, in her introduction to Cranford, published in 1891, also compares Gaskell to Austen, and finds the latter lacking:

Cranford is farther removed from the world, and yet more attuned to its larger interests than Meryton or Kellynch or Hartfield….Drumble, the great noisy manufacturing town, is its metropolis, not Bath with its successions of card parties and Assembly Rooms.” …. and on love, “there is more real feeling in these few signs of what once was, than in all the Misses Bennett’s youthful romances put together…only Miss Austen’s very sweetest heroines (including her own irresistible dark-eyed self, in her big cap and faded kerchief) are worthy of this old place….”  and later, “it was because she had written Mary Barton that some deeper echoes reach us in Cranford than are to be found in any of Jane Austen’s books, delightful though they be.” (4)

Margaret Lane in her wonderful book of essays on biography, Purely for Pleasure [which also includes the essay "Jane Austen's Sleight-of-hand"], has two essays on Mrs. Gaskell.  Lane calls her one of the greatest novelists of the time, and especially praises Wives & Daughters over Cranford for its stature, sympathies, mature grasp of character and its humour, and its effect of “creating the illusion of a return to a more rigid but also more stable and innocent world than ours” and we feel refreshed in spirit after a reading. (5)

Wives & Daughters, Gaskell’s last work, and considered her finest, was published as a serial novel in Cornhill, the last unfinished part appearing in January 1866.  Gaskell had literally dropped dead in the middle of a spoken sentence at the age of 55, and the work remained unfinished, with only a long note from the Cornhill editor following the last serial installment.  Wives and Daughters tells the story of Molly Gibson and her new stepsister Cynthia, and their coming of age in the male-dominated mid-Victorian society of “Hollingford.”

But it is Lane’s essay on “Mrs. Gaskell’s Task” in which she so highly praises Gaskell’s achievement in her biography of Charlotte Bronte.  While Gaskell obviously suppressed some facts (the letters to M. Heger) and exaggerated others (Mr. Bronte as a father and Branwell as a son), Lane says “her great biography remains a stirring and noble work, one of the first in our language…. and it is in essence ‘truer’ than anything about the Brontes which has been written since…”(6)

Such contrary opinions!…certainly reminiscent of Austen’s admirers and critics!    Perhaps as Pam Morris says in her introduction to W&D, “Gaskell resists any simple categorization…her work ranges across the narrative forms of realism and fairytale, protest fiction and pastoralism, melodrama and the domestic novel.” (7)  I confess to having only read the Bronte biography and that years ago…but I have also had three of her novels (MB, C and W&D) sitting on my TBR shelf for many a year….I see a great task ahead in order to give Gaskell her just due! (or do I dare just see the movies??!)

________________________________________

Notes:

1.  Stebbins, Lucy Poate. A Victorian Album: Some lady Novelists of the Period (Columbia, 1946) p. 96.

2.  Ibid.

3.  Cecil, David.  Victorian Novelists: Essays in Revaluation (Chicago, 1962) p. 187.

4.  Ritchie, Anne Thackeray.  Preface to Cranford (Macmillan, 1927) pp. vii, xix.

5.  Lane, Margaret.  Purely for Pleasure (Hamish Hamilton, 1966)  p. 153.

6.  Ibid, p. 170.

7.  Morris, Pam.  Introduction to Wives and Daughters (Penguin, 2001) p. vii.

* Both illustrations above are from the London Macmillan edition of Cranford, illustrated by Hugh Thomson (originally published in 1891). This copy is also available at the Illustrated Cranford site.

Further references:

The Gaskell Information Page which includes many links to other information, societies, etc.

The E-Texts of all her works.

A few biographies: by Angus Easson (London, 1979); Winifred Gerin (Oxford, 1980); Aina Rubenius, The Woman Question in Mrs. Gaskell’s Life and Work (Upsala, 1950); Jenny Uglow, Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories (London, 1993)1

And see also the recent Jane Austen Today Blog where Ms. Place discusses Cranford along with an interview with Judi Dench.

Mrs. Gaskell’s Works:

  1. Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life, anonymous (2 volumes, London: Chapman & Hall, 1848; 1 volume, New York: Harper, 1848);
  2. Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras: A Lancashire Tale, as Cotton Mather Mills, Esquire (London: Hamilton, Adams, 1850);
  3. Lizzie Leigh: A Domestic Tale, from “Household Words,” attributed to Charles Dickens (New York: Dewitt & Davenport, 1850);
  4. The Moorland Cottage, anonymous (London: Chapman & Hall, 1850; New York: Harper, 1851);
  5. Ruth: A Novel, anonymous (3 volumes, London: Chapman & Hall, 1853; 1 volume, Boston: Ticknor, Reed & Fields, 1853);
  6. Cranford, anonymous (London: Chapman & Hall, 1853; New York: Harper, 1853);
  7. Lizzie Leigh and Other Tales, anonymous (London: Chapman & Hall, 1855; Philadelphia: Hardy, 1869);
  8. Hands and Heart and Bessy’s Troubles at Home, anonymous (London: Chapman & Hall, 1855);
  9. North and South, anonymous (2 volumes, London: Chapman & Hall, 1855; 1 volume, New York: Harper, 1855);
  10. The Life of Charlotte Brontë; Author of “Jane Eyre,” “Shirley,” “Villette” etc., 2 volumes (London: Smith, Elder, 1857; New York: Appleton, 1857);
  11. My Lady Ludlow, A Novel (New York: Harper, 1858); republished as Round the Sofa (2 volume’s, London: Low, 1858);
  12. Right at Last, and Other Tales (London: Low, 1860; New York: Harper, 1860);
  13. Lois the Witch and Other Tales (Leipzig: Tauchnitz 1861);
  14. Sylvia’s Lovers (3 volumes, London: Smith, Elder, 1863; 1 volume, New York: Dutton, 1863);
  15. A Dark Night’s Work (London: Smith, Elder, 1863; New York: Harper, 1863);
  16. Cousin Phillis: A Tale (New York: Harper, 1864); republished as Cousin Phillis and Other Tales (London: Smith, Elder, 1865);
  17. The Grey Woman and Other Tales (London: Smith, Elder, 1865; New York: Harper, 1882);
  18. Wives and Daughters: An Every-Day Story (2 volumes, London: Smith, Elder, 1866; 1 volume, New York: Harper, 1866).

(this list from the Edgar Wright Gaskell Page)

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,477 other followers

%d bloggers like this: