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by Alan Sheston

One of the great Victorian authors, Elizabeth Gaskell is now chiefly remembered for penning Cranford and the radical novel North and South. She was also a regular contributor to Dickens’ periodicals. Gaskell forged friendships with contemporary authors and was highly influential among her peers: she famously wrote her friend Charlotte Brontë’s biography, producing a work that is still regarded as one of the finest examples of life-writing. As a writer of fiction she is famed for her adeptness at capturing local dialect and the voices of middle-class characters, and she skilfully enriched all her work with a sense of the intimate and everyday, even when it concerned contentious political issues. Thanks to her prolific letter-writing, records remain of her daily experiences and thoughts.

In this new biography, Alan Shelston, founder of The Gaskell Society Journal, sheds light on the life of the woman behind the writing: her literary successes, and also her marriage and humanitarian work.

Publication date: 01/11/2000

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