ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL
Elizabeth Gaskell, the daughter of William
Stevenson, was born in London in 1810 but after her mother's early death
was brought up by her aunt, mainly in
Knutsford, the town with which she is always associated. She was educated for a period at Stratford-upon-Avon, and from her marriage to the Reverend
William Gaskell, in 1832, she lived in Manchester. She died suddenly, during the course of a visit to Alton in Hampshire in 1865.
Elizabeth Gaskell's life in Manchester centred on the Unitarian Chapel
in Cross Street, of which her husband was minister; at the same time she
was a remarkable
independent person and an enthusiastic traveller, both at home and on the continent. She was thus able to draw upon a wide range of experience in her writing. Her
literary output may surprise those who know her through a single work, whether it be Cranford, Mary Barton her Manchester based novel, or her outstanding
biography of her friend Charlotte Bronte, for she tried her hand at many genres, in all of which she achieved distinction.
As a novelist she wrote on social problems with a regional background,
as well as domestic and historical fiction, together with tales of murder,
mystery and the
supernatural. She also wrote biography, essays and reviews; her interests ranged from the sociological to the antiquarian and were often reflected in occasional
journalism as well as in her more formal work.
Elizabeth Gaskell has never been out of public favour. The publication
of The Letters of Mrs. Gaskell, edited by Arthur Pollard and J.A.V. Chapple
marked a revival of scholarly interest in her work. Subsequently, her industrial novels attracted renewed admiration, and the influence of feminism in literary studies
has further widened and enhanced her reputation.
ABOUT THE SOCIETY
September 29th, 1985, the 175th Anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell's birth
was commemorated in Knutsford by a literary lunch and other events which
led to the
formation of the GASKELL SOCIETY.
Although the Society has no building as headquarters, its centre is
Knutsford, with its many Gaskell associations, as CRANFORD and Hollingford
AND DAUGHTERS. Here she spent a happy childhood, was married at the Parish Church and is buried in the three-hundred-year-old Brook Street Chapel's
graveyard, surrounded by her ancestors' graves.
The Society hold its AGM in Knutsford about the end of September and
a General Meeting is held in the Spring in Manchester, where Elizabeth
Gaskell lived and
wrote, Her house at Plymouth Grove is used as an International Student Centre by Manchester University and may be visited on application. The Society is affiliated
to the Alliances of Literary Societies.
(included in the subscription)
The Gaskell Society Journal is published annually from the English Department
of the University of Manchester. Jo Pryke is the Editor and Alan Shelston
Consultant Editor. It includes scholarly articles and notes on all aspects of Gaskell studies.
Newsletters are published half-yearly, containing shorter articles,
notes and details about forthcoming events and society activities.