Monthly Elizabeth Gaskell Chronicle – May 2011 Edition

The Gaskell Chronicle brings together the best recent blog posts (covering a variety of opinions), news items, and events related to Elizabeth Gaskell.
If you’d like to suggest something to be included please contact me.

Theatre Productions

Ian Dickens’ production of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford will be showing at Harrogate Theatre in Harrogate, North Yorskshire until May 7th, followed by performances at Lincoln’s Theatre Royal in Clasketgate, Lincoln May 16th – 18th.

For a list of other dates and locations, please visit What’s on State.

View more Images

The Gainsborough Standard has a contest running — Win two tickets to see Cranford, please visit their website for more information.

Jacqui Onions of The Public Reviews gave the production three out of five stars in her April review:

The whole cast are very strong… Both Alicia Grace Turrell and in particular Jake Hendriks bring wonderful characterization to their supporting roles of Miss Matty’s maid and her gentleman “follower”, providing quite a bit of the comedy of the piece.

Despite the many stories within this play it is still rather slow moving in places, particularly at the beginning as the characters are being set, but the pace does pick up as the play goes on. The script contains far more humor than I was expecting but is gently amusing rather than laugh out loud funny… If you are a period drama fan or if you enjoyed watching the television adaptation of Cranford then this production is well staged with a quality cast and will not disappoint. Read the full Review and read Bill Avenell’s review, written in February.


Thursday May 5, 2011, 6-8pm,
English Seminar Room (S.2.39), King’s College London, Strand Campus.
Speakers: Jo Pryke, former editor of The Gaskell Journal and Shirley Foster, University of Sheffield

J’Accuse! Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Moorland Cottage (1850) Vs. George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860)

Get ready for academic feathers to fly! The former editor of The Gaskell Journal Jo Pryke has long suspected that one of the greatest and most revered of nineteenth-century novelists George Eliot may have – shock, horror – stolen the idea for her celebrated semi-autobiographical novel The Mill on the Floss
(1860) from Elizabeth Gaskell’s novella The Moorland Cottage (1850). And now Jo is getting ready to set out her case: to an audience of Gaskell and Eliot researchers, enthusiasts, students and academics.

So did the great Victorian sage Eliot commit narrative larceny? Did Gaskell’s 1850 tale of Maggie and Edward Browne’s sibling woe provide the blueprint for Eliot’s childhood epic of Maggie and Tom Tulliver? And what are the wider implications of the brother and sister plot in the 1850s and 1860s? Making the case in Eliot’s defence is Dr Shirley Foster from the University of Sheffield.

Entrance is free. All welcome but please email the organizers if you would like to attend: Louise Lee (louise.lee (@) or Alison Lundie (alisonlundie (@)

In the News

James Wilson of the Knutsford Guardian reports: Victorian edition of Cranford to Go on Show

An edition of Cranford, dated 1891, is among a collection of historic books on display at Arley Hall this summer. The 120-year-old version of Elizabeth Gaskell’s famous book includes a character called Sir Peter Arley, who is said to be based on Sir Peter Leicester, of Tabley.

Inside the front cover is a handwritten list of the characters and the local people they are based on, although it is not known who wrote the list. Simon Wilson, Arley Hall manager, said: “Cranford is such a well-loved story and a part of local history, so it is great to have such an early copy of it here, especially as someone has taken the time to connect the characters with their real-life counterparts.” Read the full Article


Jewel Alchemy has created a set of jewelry inspired by Molly Gibson from the adaptation of Gaskell’s Wives and Daughter’s.

Molly was inspired the sweetly determined character in Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic “Wives and Daughters” and the wonderful miniseries starring Justine Waddell as Molly Gibson. Although she occasionally was seen in a rather wild Tartan of dubious heritage, she usually wore simple muslin gowns.

Cream linen and fine silver wire, adorned with petite Freshwater Pearls and Rainbow Moonstone rondelles create a locket in which one can place a small piece of fabric which has been dabbed with a favorite perfume or essential oil, or for authenticity, you could douse it with Lavender Water to revive you when you get a case of the vapors.


Book Reviews

The Moorland Cottage – Beauty is a Sleeping Cat

Still I enjoyed it overall because I cannot compare it to any of her other novels yet and because I could see what a truly good Elizabeth Gaskell novel would have to offer. Her descriptions are nuanced and beautiful, the changing of the seasons is rendered masterfully. Depending on the season her descriptions are either light and cheerful or dark and gloomy. Some character descriptions are interesting. Mrs Buxton, despite her insufferable moral teachings, is an interesting character. Why is she ailing and why does she love little Maggie so much?  The awareness of social injustices and the social criticism are themes Elizabeth Gaskell is known for and there is already quite a lot of it in this early novel…. read more.

Cranford – Lobster Hug

I read the Penguin Classics clothbound edition and the supplemental materials are excellent. I especially liked the appendix that detailed the fashions of Cranford… read more.

Cranford is the fifth book in from the left

North and South – Literary Liaisons

This novel has been traditionally overlooked, not only because of Gaskell’s better-known contemporaries, but also due to the social commentary included in the storyline. Granted, most Victorian novels featured some form of social critique or satire, but in North and South, Gaskell really made an effort to discuss some of the problems with industry and working conditions in Northern England. However, contrary to what I’ve heard other readers say, I don’t think it took away from the plot development at all… read more.

Adaptation Reviews

North & South 2004 – Unhyphenated American

The central plot, revolving around employers, employees, strikes and unions, is also especially relevant in light of all the union news going on in the US. It seems in some ways things have changed tremendously… and in others, not much at all. Again, I can’t speak for the book, but the movie at least was pretty fair: like Margaret, you could appreciate both Higgins’ and Thornton’s side of things, and the story didn’t end with a decisive victory for one side over another. In the end both men have to swallow their pride.

Authors Learning from Elizabeth Gaskell

Author K.M. Weiland of Wordplay examines some of Elizabeth Gaskell’s techniques as an author and how to learn from them:

Explains how, in North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell uses a single “telling detail” to effectively take the place of a lengthy description.


Simplifies the trick of hooking a reader at the beginning of a story by showing how Elizabeth Gaskell piqued curiosity in “Lizzie Leigh.”

Nothing adds tension like conflict. Be it internal feelings or conflicting ideas. One book that does this well is North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell… read more.

Gaskell Reading Challenge Posts

Mel U writes about Cranford & The Cage at Cranford at her blog The Reading Life

Cranford is a joy to read. The prose is beautiful, the characters for sure are sympathetic and believable. There is a good bit of gentle satire and I loved all of the conversations about Samuel Johnson! … read more.

Alexa Adams of First Impressions re-read Wives and Daughters:

…While this reading certainly adds a compelling dimension to any critique of the novel, it is her mother, Mrs. Gibson, who fascinated me most. Mrs. Gibson is in no way the wicked step-mother of fairytale, although Ms. Morris constructs her discussion of the novel within the context of a “fairytale subtext”, but she is a consummate hypocrite and, as such, causes both Molly (to say nothing of her duped father) and Cynthia no little discomfort. My attraction to Mrs. Gibson lies greatly in her resemblance to several of Austen’s characters, namely Isabella Thorpe and Mary Crawford… read more.

Charla of Book Talk with Charla read Ruth, she writes:

You will fall in love with Ruth.  She is such a sweet, loving person that you just have to fall in love with her.  She has an extremely difficult time making her way in the world.  It is interesting to read about the differences between then and now, and to see just how the female has risen above such terrible ideas of how a woman is supposed to act and what is expected of her… read more.


One Comment Add yours

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s