Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell

Excerpt

One of the notable gaps in the field of biography is an authentic and comprehensive life of Elizabeth Gaskell, humanitarian, novelist, short-story writer, and biographer. The reason for this omission has been the unremitting antagonism shown to such a project during their lifetime by Mrs. Gaskell's two unmarried daughters, and the obstructions which they placed in the way of those who should attempt the work after their death.

When Mrs. Gaskell and one of her daughters were talking with one of Thackeray's daughters after his death, Miss Thackeray chanced to remark that it had been her father's wish that no one should write his life. Mrs. Gaskell, remembering her trouble over The Life of Charlotte Brontë, turned to her daughter and expressed a similar wish about herself. This casual remark her two younger daughters construed as an order, and all subsequent efforts to budge them from their position were unavailing. Sir Adolphus Ward succeeded in obtaining from them a few facts with which to prepare the article for The Dictionary of National Biography; but this article is incomplete and in places incorrect. Mrs. Ellis H. Chadwick later secured a few more facts when she was preparing to write Mrs. Gaskell: Haunts, Homes, and Stories; but when the book was issued, Miss Meta Gaskell in a published article charged it with being full of errors, and declared that Mrs. Chadwick had obtained what little information the family gave her only because they had not known that she intended to use it in a book.

Mrs. Thurston Holland, Mrs. Gaskell's eldest daughter, saw the need of a life of her mother, and wished the other sisters to collaborate in writing one, but they always refused. After they died, they left with their solicitors, who were their executors . . .

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