Gaskell Reading Challenge

Elizabeth Gaskell’s genius for writing lies in how she weaves the subtleties of emotions and everyday life into her works. Admired by contemporaries such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Charlotte Bronte, with whom she was also friends, she was well known in her day and often shocked people by writing the truth. Her bicentenary celebration was September of 2010 and her level of recognition continues to rise. Three of her novels have been adapted by the BBC: Wives & Daughters, North & South, and Cranford. Take a little time to delight in one of her novels and join me for this Reading Challenge.

He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself. – North & South

How to Participate & Details

You can join anytime by leaving a comment on this post.

  1. Choose a minimum of two works written by Mrs. Gaskell or related to her, one must be from the ‘novels’ category. The list is below and includes links to free ebooks, if available.
  2. Share your thoughts on your blog or website, please be sure to include the event graphic and a link back to this page.
  3. Send me an email with the link to your post.
  4. All posts written for this challenge will be mentioned and linked here on Gaskell Blog
  5. At the end of the challenge a list will be compiled of all the posts sorted by work read so it’s easy to find and read others opinions and reactions.

List of Participants

Molly could have cried with passionate regret at the though the of unvalued treasure lying at Cynthia’s feet; and it would have been a merely unselfish regret. It was the old fervid tenderness. ‘Do not wish for the moon, O my darling, for I cannot give it thee.’ Cynthia’s love was the moon Roger yearned for; and Molly saw that it was far away and out of reach, else would she have strained her heart-chords to give it to Roger. – Wives & Daughters

Written by Gaskell


  • Mary Barton: 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.
  • Cranford (edition includes Mr. Harrison’s Confessions & My Lady Ludlow): Cranford… tells the story of the Jenkyns sisters.
    Mr. Harrison’s Confession,
    a witty piece about a young doctor who recently moves to the town of Duncombe and is involved in many misunderstandings.
    My Lady Ludlow
    , written in 1858, is set before the other two novellas. In it the narrator recounts her childhood growing up in Lady Ludlow’s household while documenting her observations of political and country life at the time.
  • Ruth: A sensitive portrayal of relationships within small towns and an exploration of seduction and illegitimacy within a small Dissenting community where tolerance and rigid morality clash.
  • North and South: A tale of contrast between the way of life in the industrial north of England and the wealthier south. First published in 1854, the story centers around young Margaret Hale from the South who moves with her parents to a fictional industrial town in the North. The move brings about many changes, as her experiences with the poor and the industrial ruling classes make her rethink her preconceived ideas on class, gender, and romance.
  • Sylvia’s Lovers
  • Wives and Daughters: The story revolves around Molly Gibson, only daughter of a widowed doctor living in a provincial English town in the 1830s. When Gaskell died suddenly in 1865, it was not quite complete, and the last section was written by Frederick Greenwood.

Novellas and Short Stories



Related Reading

Biography on Gaskell

Gaskell’s Letters

Analysis and Literary Criticism


56 Comments Add yours

  1. zelfgezien says:

    I love the idea so count me in! It’s going to by my first challenge ever, so I’ll see how many books I’ll be able to read, but I can’t wait!

  2. How exciting Katherine! I missed your announcement while preparing for Jane Austen’s b-day. This should be great fun. I love your graphic. It is beautiful.

  3. FleurFisher says:

    This is a lovely idea, and I’m very pleased to have found you. I’ve only read Cranford but I’ve been wanting to read more and so I am definitely signing up.

  4. Helen says:

    I’d love to sign up for this. I was planning to read something by Gaskell next year anyway, so this challenge is perfect for me.

  5. Great challenge, Katherine! I’ll be rereading Sylvia’s Lovers, as well as reading Uncle Peter and Lizzie Leigh. I also will try to do more recording of Gaskell’s stories for LibriVox.

    Here’s a link to my post “Reading Gaskell for the First Time”:

    My recommendation for those new to Gaskell has to be either Wives and Daughters or North and South. For shorter works, The Moorland Cottage and The Old Nurse’s Story are my favorites.

  6. phylly3 says:

    I would like to participate too! I need to finish reading Cranford, but I would also like to read Mary Barton and / or Sylvia’s Lovers.
    I also received the biography of Charlotte Bronte for Christmas which I hope would count as well.

  7. Audrey says:

    Me, too! I was looking for an author to focus on for a while and EG is very appealiing. (I’m enjoyiing your blog.)

  8. Miss Laurie says:

    I found out about this challenge through the blog Reading, Writing, Working, Playing ( I already have two Gaskell novels on my reading list for 2011 and I thought taking this challenge might be a lovely way to really enjoy my time with Mrs. Gaskell! I’ll be reading Wives and Daughters and re-reading North and South (one of my favorite books ever!). I can’t wait! 🙂

  9. Violet says:

    Sign me up! This is my year of Victorian Literature. I’m currently reading Mary Barton.

  10. Whitney says:

    Sign me up! Fantastic idea for a reading challenge.

  11. Cat says:

    Have just discovered your blog ( thanks to Whitney) and look forward to participating in this challenge.

  12. Sherri Mash says:

    I just finished Lizzy Leigh on a free reading site. I had not heard of Elizabeth Gaskell. I Googled her and found out I have been missing some wonderful writing. I am so excited to take this challenge! I will start with North and South since it seems to be such a favorite and I will read the February pick of Moorland Cottage. Can not wait to start! I just found your blog site and will post about this on my blog.

  13. playsthetart says:

    Elizabeth Gaskell is one of my favorite authors! I’m in! And thanks for hosting this wonderful challenge 🙂

  14. stilettostorytime says:

    Count me in! Gaskell is one of my favorites and I never let a year go by without reading “North and South”. I am going to try and read some I have not read before this year as well!

    Stiletto Storytime

  15. Alexa Adams says:

    I’ve been debating this since I first saw your post, Katherine, and I think I’ve decided I am in. As there are no commitment levels, and I still never managed to finished Cranford, with the holidays being so hectic, I think I can manage this challenge. I do not know which other book will tempt me, but perhaps I’ll just keep in step with your group reads. Still, I have so many commitments this year that I pray I’m not overextending myself. To only need to read two books and still fail would be highly mortifying!

  16. Mary says:

    I will be joining in as well.

  17. Andrea says:

    Really looking forward to this, shall be doing the read-a-long in Feb too.

  18. Adrienne S says:

    I’d love to participate! I loved Cranford but I’ve always wanted to read more Gaskell and this is a perfect oppotunity!

  19. Nicole says:

    I would love to participate in this reading challenge! Please put down my blog address as !

  20. Becca says:

    I have never read Ms. Gaskell before but she has always been on my list of “to read” so I think this challenge will be perfect! I shall read North and South and Cranford.

    My lit blog:

  21. Diane says:

    I just found this challenge and want to join. I had already planned on reading North and South this year and have most of EG’s other novels. Maybe I’ll look at some of the novellas

  22. Lit~Lass says:

    I’m in. I just haven’t figured out which books, other than “North and South” ( a reread), I’ll be reading or rereading.

  23. Jillian says:

    I recommend North and South. It’s a little Jane Austen meets Charles Dickens. I love the movie but the book is ten times better! PS–listen to it for free at

  24. Alison says:

    This is just up my street. I’m reading Ruth just now so that will be my first choice and then maybe Mary Barton or the iconic Cranford as my second choice.
    I have The Moorland Cottage waiting on the sidelines for Feburary.
    I’m going to so enjoy this:-)

  25. Lit~Lass says:

    This challenge isn’t year-long, is it? It’s only January to June, right?

  26. Selene says:

    I’m in for this one, I’m reading Moorland Cottage, and also want to read Cranford and it’s sequels. 😀 Thanks for hosting!

  27. Suzan says:

    I didn’t realize this was going on until now…heehee. I’m so glad I read Jane Greensmith’s blog. I just finished Moorland Cottage a week or so ago and I loved it. A week or so before that I enjoyed Cousin Phillis. I have previously read Wives and Daughters and North and South and I enjoyed them tremendously. The movies cemented the deal. I enjoy the movie version of North and South’s ending moreso than the novel which is unusual for me. It is the most romantic I have ever seen. Gaskell’s use of descriptive terms for scenery and emotions was just so extraordinary even in the short works. I have Ruth and Mary Barton out now but I realize it will take me awhile to read them. Cranford the movie was delightful…actually I have that book out as well. Aw

  28. cathycrane11 says:

    I would love to participate in this challenge. Where would I start or is it too late.

    1. Hello Cathy, you can still join if you’d like, the challenge will be going through until June. 🙂

  29. cathycrane11 says:

    I am going to start with Moorland Cottage. I have downloaded on my Kindle.

  30. Patricia says:

    I would like very much to take part in this challenge. I am signing up somewhat later – I have finished reading The Moorland Cottage, today and enjoyed the story. Thank you for having me.

  31. Carmen says:

    I would like to participate in this challenge… I am going to read… again! Cranford, The life of Charlotte Brontë and, for the first time, Sylvia’s lovers.
    I will include the link when I have begun with the reading…

    Have a nice day!!

    Carmen, from Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

  32. Patricia Finnegan says:

    I am not familiar with blogs and electronically challenged. How do I include event graphic and a link back to this page?

    I have a tumblr account, does that count as a blog or website? (If I only remember my password)

    Any info greatly appreciated and would be of help!

    “2.Share your thoughts on your blog or website, please be sure to include the event graphic and a link back to this page.
    3.Send me an email with the link to your post.
    4.All posts written for this challenge will be mentioned and linked via the Monday Gaskell Reading Challenge Round Up, which will publish weekly or bi-weekly depending on the amount of posts.
    5.At the end of the challenge a list will be compiled of all the posts sorted by work read so it’s easy to find and read others opinions and reactions.”

    1. I’d be happy to help, Patricia.

      To add the graphic and a link back with Tubmlr – after you log on click the photo button, it will bring you to a new screen, click on Use a URL Instead and paste this link: into the box. Near the bottom of the page click on set click through link and paste this link:

      Please let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

  33. Angela says:

    had the same doubt patricia: D Cool

  34. Mel u says:

    Please count me in for The Challenge-

  35. Charla says:

    I am late in joining, but I think I can finish before it is over. I had already purchased ‘Ruth’ for my kindle, so I was glad to find your blog. I have a blogger account, and am having problems adding the graphic with the link embedded. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Hello Charla,

      Delighted to have you joining. The coding would be:
      <a href=””><img src=””>

      Let me know if you have any other questions. 🙂

  36. Hi!I’m new here and I’d love to join. I’ve already planned my reading list: 2 novels( North and South & Wives and Daughters; 2 novellas and short stories( The Grey Woman and Other Tales & Round the Sofa); 2 essays( An Accursed Race & French Life) and finally one biography: The Life of Charlotte Bronte. I’ve just started my blog so I’m a bit unaware of the ins and outs of blogging. I’ve posted a link on my site( hope it’s ok)

  37. Jen says:

    I’ve only just discovered this reading challenge, but what a great initiative! I should be able to make the deadline though, as it were…

  38. smkelly8 says:

    I just found this. I’m in though I’m late. I’ll start with Wives & Daughters.

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