Elizabeth Gaskell

Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn (Stevenson)

Elizabeth Cleghorn (Stevenson) Gaskell (găs´kəl), 1810–65, English novelist. When she was still an infant her mother died, and she was brought up by an aunt in Knutsford, Cheshire, the background for several of her novels of provincial life. In 1832 she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian minister. They settled in Manchester, and she lived a quiet, small-town life, rearing a large family and writing her novels. In Cranford (1853) and Wives and Daughters (1866), Mrs. Gaskell describes the joys and sorrows common to middle-class village life. In Mary Barton (1848) and North and South (1855) she depicts the social conditions of early Victorian England, particularly of the working classes in the large industrial towns. Although often overly moralistic, her novels are distinguished by humor, perceptive characterization, and superb descriptive passages. Her excellent Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857) roused a furor because of its candid statements about the Brontë family, particularly concerning the excesses of Branwell.

See her letters, ed. by J. A. V. Chapple and A. Pollard (1966); biographies by A. Pollard (1966), G. De W. Sanders (1929, repr. 1971), A. B. Hopkins (1952, repr. 1971), W. Gérin (1976), P. Stoneman (1987), and J. Uglow (1993); studies by K. C. Shrivastava (1977) and E. L. Duthie (1980).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Elizabeth Gaskell
Tessa Brodetsky.
Berg, 1986
Elizabeth Gaskell
Gerald De Witt Sanders.
Yale University Press, 1929
Mary Barton
Elizabeth Gaskell; Edgar Wright.
Oxford University Press, 1998
FREE! The Life of Charlotte Brontë
E. C. Gaskell.
D. Appleton, vol.1, 1857
FREE! The Life of Charlotte Brontë
E. C. Gaskell.
D Appleton and Co., vol.2, 1857
Cranford
Elizabeth Gaskell; Elizabeth Porges Watson.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Sylvia's Lovers
Elizabeth Gaskell; Andrew Sanders.
Oxford University Press, 1982
Some Appointed Work to Do: Women and Vocation in the Fiction of Elizabeth Gaskell
Robin B. Colby.
Greenwood Press, 1995
Domesticity, Imperialism, and Emigration in the Victorian Novel
Diana C. Archibald.
University of Missouri Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. One "Storm Cloud over England and Blue Skies in Canada Industrialization, Empire, and the Pastoral in Gaskell"
The Power of Lies: Transgression in Victorian Fiction
John Kucich.
Cornell University Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Three "Lying and Impulsiveness in Elizabeth Gaskell"
Faithful Realism: Elizabeth Gaskell and Leo Tolstoy : A Comparative Study
Josie Billington.
Bucknell University Press, 2002
The Literary Detective: 100 Puzzles in Classic Fiction
John Sutherland.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "What Kind of Murderer Is John Barton?" begins on p. 78
A Victorian Album: Some Lady Novelists of the Period
Lucy Poate Stebbins.
Columbia University Press, 1946
Librarian’s tip: "Elizabeth Gaskell" begins on p. 95
Outside the Pale: Cultural Exclusion, Gender Difference, and the Victorian Woman Writer
Elsie B. Michie.
Cornell University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "My Story as My Own Property: Gaskell, Dickens, and the Rhetoric of Prostitution" and Chap. 4 "Those That Will Not Work: Prostitutes, Property, Gaskell, and Dickens"
Place in Literature: Regions, Cultures, Communities
Roberto M. Dainotto.
Cornell University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: "Lost in an Ancient South: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Rhetoric of Latitudes" begins on p. 75
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