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.
- 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.
- Share your thoughts on your blog or website, please be sure to include the event graphic and a link back to this page.
- Send me an email with the link to your post.
- All posts written for this challenge will be mentioned and linked here on Gaskell Blog
- 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.
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
- The Moorland Cottage – There will be a group read of this one in February
- Doom of the Griffiths
- Lizzie Leigh
- Round the Sofa
- Lois the Witch
- A Dark Night’s Work
- Uncle Peter
- Cousin Phillis
- A House to Let
- The Half-Brothers
- Half a Lifetime Ago
- The Manchester Marriage
- The Grey Woman and Other Tales (Other tales include: Curious if true, Six weeks at Heppenheim, Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras, Christmas storms and sunshine, Hand and Heart, Bessy’s troubles at home, and Disappearances)
Biography on Gaskell
- Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories by Jenny Uglow
- Elizabeth Gaskell by: Patsy Stonebridge
- Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years by: JohnChapple
- Mrs. Gaskell: Novelist and Biographer by: Arthur Pollard
- The Letters of Mrs. Gaskell edited: John Chapple and Arthur Pollard
- Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell edited: John Chapple and Alan Shelston