Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell


Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (Chelsea, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Greater London, England; September 29, 1810 - Alton, East Hampshire District, Hampshire, England; November 12, 1865) was an English novelist, biographer and short story writer, and his novels provide a detailed portrait of the life of many strata of Victorian society, including the very poor.


Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson was the daughter of Elizabeth Holland (1771-1811), originally from Cheshire, England, and William Stevenson (1772-1829), a nonconformist Scottish preacher, tutor, and civil servant. His parents were married on December 1, 1797 at St Lawrence's Parish Church, Over Peover in Cheshire, and together they had 8 children.

Elizabeth Stevenson and John Stevenson (1800-1827) were the only two children to survive this marriage and then their brother John died around 1827 during a trip to India.

She married William Gaskel (1805-1884) on August 30, 1832 in Knutsford, Cheshire, England, and together they had 5 children: Marianne Gaskell (1834-1920), Margaret Emily Gaskell (1837-1913), Florence Elizabeth Gaskell (1842-1881), William Thomas Gaskell (1844-1845) and Julia Bradford Gaskell (1846-1908).

The Reverend William Gaskell was an English Unitarian minister, charity worker, and pioneer in the education of the working class. For more than fifty years he helped train men with no prior academic training for Unitary ministry. In addition to being a student of the English language and dialects and a celebrated literary lecturer, he assisted his wife, Elizabeth Gaskell, in the research and editorial preparation of her novels.

It should also be noted that Elizabeth's aunt, Hannah Holland (1767-1837), was married on October 7, 1789 in the parish chapel of Over Peover in Cheshire to Samuel Lumb (1761-1805), grandson of John Lumb of Wakefield ( 1690 -1768), who was the brother-in-law of Richard Foster of Flanshaw Lane (1686-1729).


Elizabeth was born on September 29, 1810, and her mother died thirteen months later. His father William Stevenson was a Unitarian, but had stopped preaching to become Keeper of the Treasury Records. Unable to raise her himself, Stevenson sent Elizabeth to live with her aunt Hannah Lumb (1767-1837), who lived in Knutsford, Cheshire.

Her aunt was legally separated from her husband, who had been declared insane. Hannah's own daughter, Marianne Lumb (1790-1812), was disabled and died in 1812, at the age of twenty-one.

Most of her childhood was spent in Knutsford, where she lived with her aunt, Hannah Lumb. This town would later immortalize it as Cranford, a very popular novel.

Elizabeth's brother, John Stevenson, had joined the merchant marine in 1820 but disappeared the following year on a trip to India. The news devastated his father and he fell into a deep depression. Elizabeth now returns to her father's home in London, where she cared for him until her death on March 22, 1829. He also lived for some time in Newcastle upon Tyne with the Reverend William Turner and in Edinburgh.

Her stepmother was the sister of the Scottish miniature artist William John Thomson (1771-1845), who painted a famous portrait of Elizabeth in 1832. He spent the next two years in the home of the Reverend William Turner (1761-1859), a relative and Unitarian minister of Hanover Chapel, Newcastle upon Tyne. Turner was a tireless activist for social causes: the emancipation of Catholics and Jews, the abolition of the slave trade, and support for charity and Sunday schools. It was to have a lasting influence on his political views.

On a visit to Turner's daughter, who lived in Manchester, Elizabeth met William Gaskell, a minister at her local Unitarian chapel. They quickly developed a close friendship and were married on August 30, 1832. The honeymoon was spent in North Wales, with Elizabeth's uncle, Samuel Holland, who lived near Porthmadog and settled in Manchester, where the industrial neighborhood would provide inspiration for his novels.

The circles in which the Gaskells moved revolved around great literati, religious dissidents, and social reformers, including William Howitt (1792-1879) and Mary Howitt (1799-1888).

In July 1833 Gaskell's first daughter was born dead. Their first surviving daughter, Marianne, was born on September 12, 1834 and her daughter's early years are recorded in Gaskell's diary: "She will speak before she walks, I think. She can clearly say daddy, dark, stir, pot, lamp, book, tea, sweep." Another daughter, Margaret Emily, was born on February 5, 1837.

Gaskell's poem, Sketches between the Poor, appeared in The Blackwood Magazine in 1837. Her friends encouraged her to write more, but she felt she needed to focus on caring for her children.

Later he wrote: "When I had young children, I don't think I could have written stories because I should have gotten too absorbed in my fictional people to attend to my real people, everyone who tries to write stories must be absorbed in them (fictional as they are) if they are to interest your readers."

Gaskell's next child was stillborn. She gave birth to Florence Elizabeth on October 7, 1842. The family now moved to a larger house in Manchester and on October 23, 1844, William, the Gaskells' son, was born, but ten months later he died of scarlet fever. Following this, Elizabeth sank into a deep depression that didn't really end until her last daughter, Julia Bradford, was born in 1846. During this period, the Gaskells became friends with the social reformers, Samuel Bamford (1788-1872) and James Martineau (1805-1900).

In February 1850, Charles Dickens (1812-1870) decided to join forces with his publisher, Bradbury & Evans, and his friend, John Forster (1812-1876), to publish the Household Words magazine. Dickens became an editor and William Wills (1834-1861), a journalist with whom he worked at the Daily News, became his assistant. Dickens planned to serialize his new novels in the magazine and also wanted to promote the work of like-minded writers.

The first person he contacted was Elizabeth Gaskell.

Dickens was very impressed with her first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life (1848) and offered to bring her future work. She sent Lizzie Leigh a story about a Manchester prostitute, which appeared in the first issue on March 30, 1850. Dickens also published her short stories The Well of Pen Morfa and The Heart of John Middleton.

In August 1850, Gaskell met the novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) at the summer home of James Kay-Shuttleworth (1804-1877). The two women became friends and were very interested in their children. He later recalled that Gaskell was "a woman whose conversation and company I should not soon tire of. I find her kind, intelligent, lively, and unaffected."

Gaskell also met Florence Nightingale (1820-1910). She admired her sense of duty, but found her manner difficult: "She has no friends and she does not want them. She is perfectly alone, halfway between God and his creatures."

Elizabeth Gaskell continued to publish stories in Household Words and also produced a series of stories that were published between December 13, 1851 and May 21, 1853, which eventually became Cranford's novel.

During this period, Gaskell visited Charles Dickens at his home: "We were taken to Mr. Dickens's study, where he writes all his books. There are books everywhere, up to the ceiling and to the floor, after dinner a lot of people came in. At the time we were in the living room, which is not as pretty or homey as the study. We listened to beautiful music and I kept trying to learn people's faces by heart, so I could remember them; but it was quite confusing that there were so many. There were some nice little Dickens children in the room who were very polite and well trained."

Residence in Calv City

The Gaskells bought a house in Plymouth Grove, Manchester, in 1850, after Elizabeth's first book was published, and lived in the house with her family for 15 years until her death. All of Gaskell's books except one were written in that house, while her husband served on welfare committees and served as a tutor in her study for the poor.

The house was designed in the Greek Revival style, by architect Richard Lane around 1838, as part of a larger development of the area for the new and emerging middle class. The building's design is unique: it houses 20 rooms spread over three floors with a rectangular front porch containing four sculpted columns that give them a water lily leaf shape, similar to the Tower of the Winds in Athens.

Visitors to the house included Charles Dickens (1812-1870), John Ruskin (1819-1900), Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), and the American writer Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908). On the other hand, conductor Charles Hallé (1819-1895) lived nearby and taught one of Gaskell's four daughters to play the piano. It's estimated that the writer Charlotte Brontë, a close friend of his throughout her life, was at Gaskell's house on three occasions, one of which, due to her shyness, she hid behind the reception curtains.

The house and its surroundings have suffered serious deterioration over the years and are currently close to a housing development, large hospitals and a popular residential area for students. This neoclassical style house is in a very poor state of conservation and suffers from serious structural problems. This house belonged to the Gaskell family until 1913, when it was offered to numerous organizations, including the local government.

The University of Manchester bought the property in 1969, making it available to the International Society, which renounced its tenure in 2000, and four years later, in 2004, it was acquired by the Manchester Historic Buildings Foundation, which planned £ 2.5 million restoration, leaving it open to the public.


Elizabeth Gaskell suddenly collapsed with a massive heart attack at her new home at Holybourne, near Alton in Hampshire, on November 12, 1865. She died shortly thereafter and was buried on November 17 at the Brook Street Chapel Cemetery in Knutsford, Cheshire, England.


  1. "Children in Early Victorian England: Infant Feeding in Literature and Society 1837-1857." Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Child Health agosto de 1978
  2. ↑ Robert Barnard, Breve historia de la literatura inglesa, Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2002, p. 186-187.
  3. ↑ Excluyendo la referencia a las historias de fantasmas de Gaskell, Abrams, M.H., et al. (eds.) "Elizabeth Gaskell, 1810-1865." The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Major Authors: The Romantic Period through the Twentieth Century, 7th ed., Vol. B. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97304-2. DDC 820.8-dc21. LC PR1109.N6.
  4. ↑ Saltar a:a b Ingham P. (1995) Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of North and South
  5. ↑ Chapple JAV, Pollard A, eds. The Letters of Mrs Gaskell. Mandolin (Manchester University Press), 1997
  6. ↑ Victorian Short Stories, Stories Of Successful Marriages, Proyecto Gutenberg.
  7. "Elizabeth Gaskell Biography - The Gaskell Society". Gaskellsociety.co.uk. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  8. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h Weyant, Nancy S. (2007). The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Gaskell; Chronology. Cambridge University Press. pp. xi-xx. ISBN 978-0-521-60926-5.
  9. ^ Pollard, Arthur (1965). Mrs. Gaskell: Novelist and Biographer. Manchester University Press. p. 12. ISBN 0-674-57750-7.
  10. ^ Gérin, Winifred (1976). Elizabeth Gaskell. Oxford University Press. pp. 10-17. ISBN 0-19-281296-3.
  11. ^ Jenny Uglow (1993). Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories. Faber & Faber. pp. 13-14. ISBN 0-571-20359-0.
  12. ^ Heathside (now Gaskell Avenue), which faces the large open area of Knutsford Heath.
  13. ^ Jump up to:a b c Michell, Sheila (1985). Introduction to The Manchester Marriage. UK: Alan Sutton. pp. iv-viii. ISBN 0-86299-247-8.
  14. ^ "The Gaskell Society Journal, Volume 22". The Gaskell Society. 2008. p. 57. Retrieved 25 April 2017. Meta (Margaret Emily), the second daughter, was sent at about the same age as Marianne to Miss Rachel Martineau, ...
  15. ^ Ritchie, p. xviii.
  16. ^ Uglow J. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories (Faber and Faber; 1993) (ISBN 0-571-20359-0)
  17. ^ Nurden, Robert (26 March 2006). "An ending Dickens would have liked". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007.
  18. ^ "Miss Meta Gaskell". The Spectator. 1 November 1913. Retrieved 25 April 2017. LORD HOUGHTON once said that the conversation and society to be met within the house of the Gaskells at Manchester were the one thing which made life in that city tolerable for people of literary tastes. Miss Meta Gaskell, (daughter of Elizabeth Gaskell) who died last Sunday...
  19. ^ Stone, Donald D. The Romantic Impulse in Victorian Fiction. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980, p. 141.
  20. ^ Chapman, edited by Alison (1999). Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton North and South. Duxford: Icon Books. ISBN 9781840460377.
  21. ^ Whitfield, Archie Stanton (1929). Mrs. Gaskell, Her Life and Works. G. Routledge & sons. p. 258.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  23. ^ Stoneman, Patsy (1987). Elizabeth Gaskell. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253301031, p. 3.
  24. ^ Matus, edited by Jill L. (2007). The Cambridge companion to Elizabeth Gaskell (repr. ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521846769., p. 9.
  25. ^ Pearl L. Brown. "From Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton To Her North And South: Progress Or Decline For Women?" Victorian Literature and Culture, 28, pp. 345-358.
  26. ^ "Elizabeth Gaskell's House". www.elizabethgaskellhouse.org. Retrieved 1 December2018.
  27. ^ "Elizabeth Gaskell's house damaged after lead theft". BBC News. 11 May 2011.
  28. ^ "Elizabeth Gaskell". www.westminster-abbey.org. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Veteran CND campaigner wins Elizabeth Gaskell award at age of 92". Manchester Evening News. 24 September 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  30. ^ "A Funny Heartfelt Tribute to a Literary Giant", Irish Times, 29 September 2018.
  31. ^ Excluding reference to Gaskell's Ghost Stories, Abrams, M. H., et al. (eds), "Elizabeth Gaskell, 1810-1865". The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Major Authors: The Romantic Period through the Twentieth Century, 7th ed., Vol. B. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97304-2. DDC 820.8-dc21. LC PR1109.N6.
  32. ^ Teacher, Janet Bukovinsky (1994). Women of Words. Frankfort, Germany: Courage Books. pp. 24. ISBN 9781561387694.
  33. ^ PHILLIPS, V. (1 August 1978). "Children in Early Victorian England: Infant Feeding in Literature and Society, 1837-1857" (PDF). Journal of Tropical Pediatrics. 24 (4): 158-166. doi:10.1093/tropej/24.4.158. PMID 364073. Retrieved 9 December 2017.
  34. ^ Gaskell, Elizabeth (1854-55). North and South. Penguin Popular Classics. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-14-062019-1.
  35. ^ Easson, Angus (1979). Elizabeth Gaskell. Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 12-17. ISBN 0-7100-0099-5.
  36. ^ Jump up to:a b Ingham, P. (1995). Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of North and South.
  37. ^ Chapple JAV, Pollard A, eds. The Letters of Mrs Gaskell. Mandolin (Manchester University Press), 1997
  38. ^ Gaskell, E. (1848). "1". Mary Barton..
  39. ^ Gaskell, Elizabeth (1854-55). North and South. Penguin Popular Classics. ISBN 978-0-14-062019-1.
  40. ^ Stories of Successful Marriages. Victorian Short Stories. The Project Gutenberg..
  41. ^ Nancy S. Weyant (2007), "Chronology", in Jill L. Matus (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Elizabeth Gaskell, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-60926-5
  42. ^ A chapter of A House to Let, co-written with Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Adelaide Anne Procter.
  43. ^ Co-written with Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Adelaide Proctor, George Sala and Hesba Stretton.
  44. ^ Jump up to:a b c Jenny Uglow (1999), "First Publication of Elizabeth Gaskell's Works", Elizabeth Gaskell (2nd ed.), Faber and Faber, pp. 617-19, ISBN 0-571-20359-0.