Academic journal article The Gaskell Journal

North West Branch

Academic journal article The Gaskell Journal

North West Branch

Article excerpt

As usual, our year began with a New Year Lunch, back once again at the Cottons Hotel in Knutsford. Nick Redman was our surprise guest speaker, amusing us with tales of his lifetime hobby of searching for whalebones.

The Knutsford meetings continued on the last Wednesday of the month at St John's Church Rooms, where from January to April we enjoyed our customary delicious buffet lunch before our study of Sylvia's Lovers, which was led once more by Elizabeth Williams. After the summer break, we reconvened in October and began a study of A Dark Night's Work which continued in November.

The Manchester meetings, held at Cross Street Chapel on the first Tuesday of the month, included talks by Christine Musgrove on 'Mrs Gaskell, Art and Manchester', Elizabeth Williams on 'Fanny Trollope', Robert Poole on 'The Pendle Witch Trials', and Simon Rennie on 'Ernest Jones and Chartism'. In December, Mike Sanders spoke on A Christmas Carol and followed it by staging a Carolathon, in which the novel was read over three hours by a series of volunteers, the proceeds being donated to Shelter.

Our summer outing took the form of a three-day study tour to Worcestershire, where Marianne Gaskell spent her later years. On the way down, we called at Hanbury Hall in Droitwich Spa, built in 1701 by the lawyer and Whig MP, Thomas Vernon; it is now a National Trust property. Tea was taken at Boughton House, now a golf and country club but once the home of the Isaac family and well-known to Marianne as the home of her husband Thurstan's mother, Sophy Isaac. Elizabeth Gaskell often visited here and found peace and solitude in which to write. …

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