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MANCHESTER PEOPLE: Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell, Writer
MRS GASKELL PROVIDED US WITH A VIVID PICTURE of Manchester during the industrial revolution. Her first novel, "Mary Barton" took four years to write, but brought her overnight success. The subject matter is based on her experiences as the wife of William Gaskell, minister of Cross St Chapel, who spent his life helping the poor of Manchester.
"Mary Barton" was very well received, though it was criticised by the apologist for Capitalism W.R. Greg, for being too sympathethic to the workers. The Manchester Guardian (Feb 28, 1848) also deplored ots "morbid sensibility to the conditions of the operatives" .
She went on to write more novels, including "Cranford", based on Knutsford. A college in Manchester, now part of MMU, bears her name. Her house on Plymouth Grove is to be restored and turned into a museum.
Maiden name: Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson Born: Chelsea, Sept 29 1810, daugher of a Unitarian minister Childhood spent in: Knutsford, Cheshire Married: Rev. William Gaskell, 1832, Knutsford; Addresses in Manchester: 14 Dover St, Chorlton-on-Medlock; 121 Upper Rumford St; 84 Plymouth Grove (from 1850).
Died of a heart attack, Nov 12, 1865.
"Mary Barton" novel, 1848; "Ruth" novel, 1853; novels "North and South", "Cranford"; biography of Charlotte Bront‘. Novel "Wives and Daughters" unfinished at death
Source: "Famous Manchester People" published by the City Council and the Local Studies Unit, Manchester Central Library. Also an article by "F.H.A.M." in the MEN Aug 30 1948.


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