March 15th, 1856
To: Harriet Anderson née Carr, a good friend of Elizabeth Gaskell in Newcastle
…When all my four girls are at home we have only one large spare room and one very small one; but between out return from Scotland and Christmas we had nineteen people staying in the house! So I think you may fancy the necessarily quick succession.
It so happened that many of our friends who had been asked ‘aforetime’ (as the lawyers say, don’t they Mr. Anderson?) found it would be convenient to them to come then; and very heartily glad we were to see one and all; but I came to the conclusion that I very very much preferred having visitors who stayed long enough to settle down into their own occupations, without disturbing my daily life…