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Elizabeth Gaskell, 1851, pastel drawing by George Richmond. Public domain image.

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865)

A selective list of online literary criticism and analysis for the English Victorian era novelist and story writer Elizabeth Gaskell, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources

Introduction, Biography, & Historical Background

"Manchester in the 19th Century." Describes the historical conditions in the industrialization of Manchester, England, particularly the cotton industry, which are the subject of Elizabeth Gaskell's novels Mary Barton and North and South. From the British Library, by Professor Emma Griffin. Also of interest "Lowell and the Industrial Revolution." How two Americans went to Manchester, England, stole the design for the power loom, and then, in 1813, established the U.S. cotton manufacturing industry in Massachusetts. From an educational website.

"Elizabeth Gaskell." A biography, commentary on Gaskell's social themes, treatment of religion, politics, class, and more. From The Victorian Web, Professor George Landow, editor.

"Elizabeth Gaskell bicentenary marked with exhibition." UK Guardian 20 July 2010.

Uglow, Jenny. "Band of women: Often silly and stubborn, the ladies in Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford stories were also resilient and full of warmth." UK Guardian 3 Nov. 2007.

Billington, Josie. "Elizabeth Gaskell." Literary Encyclopedia. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd. An introduction to Elizabeth Gaskell, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field [subscription service].

North and South, a version made for television by the BBC, with video excerpts available.

The beautifully restored Elizabeth Glaskell house in Manchester, England, located at 84 Plymouth Grove, now open to the public. Also an article from the Guardian about the restoration of the house, a rare surviving example of a suburban Victorian villa. Charlotte Brontë called it "a large, cheerful, airy house, quite out of the Manchester smoke." Elizabeth and William Gaskell purchased this house in 1850, partly with the earnings from her writings.

"Anna Jameson, Harriet Martineau and Their Friends." A searchable database for two women involved in the reform campaigns of the day, who had contact with Elizabeth Gaskell and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Part of the Victorian Women Writers' Letters Project.

The personal papers of Elizabeth Gaskell. The special collections at John Rylands Library, U of Manchester, which also houses archives relating to non-conformist churches, trade unions and labor history.

Web site for the Gaskell Society, includes information about writings on and by Elizabeth Gaskell.

Brook Street Chapel, Knutsford, the Unitarian chapel which Elizabeth Gaskell attended as a girl; includes a biographical page on her.

Cross Street Chapel, Manchester, where in 1828 William Gaskell, Elizabeth's husband, was appointed junior minister, and where Mr. Gaskell continued as minister until his death in 1884.

Shelston, Alan. "Elizabeth Gaskell and Manchester." Portico Library, March 1996.

Excerpt from The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844, by Friedrich Engels. It was Engels' first book, which he wrote during his stay in Manchester from 1842 to 1844.

Mary Barton (1848) & North and South (1855)

Bodenheimer, Rosemarie. "North and South: A Permanent State of Change." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 34, 3 (Dec., 1979), pp. 281-301 [free at jstor].

Brown, Pearl L. "From Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton to Her North and South: Progress or Decline for Women?" Compares Gaskell's two novels about industrial unrest in Manchester, England. Victorian Literature and Culture 28, 2 (2000), pp. 345-358 [free at jstor].

Harman, Barbara Leah. "In Promiscuous Company: Female Public Appearance in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton." Victorian Studies 31, 3 (Spring, 1988), pp. 351-374 [free at jstor].

Hotz, Mary Elizabeth. "Taught by Death What Life Should Be," Elizabeth Gaskell's Representation of Death in North and South. In Studies in the Novel 32, 2, DEATH IN THE NOVEL (Summer 2000), pp. 165-184 [free at jstor].

Kanwit, John Paul. "'Mere Outward Appearances'? Household Taste and Social Perception in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South." Victorian Review 35, 1 (Spring 2009), pp. 190-210 [free at jstor].

Markovits, Stefanie. "North and South, East and West." Nineteenth-Century Literature 59, 4 (March 2005), pp. 463-493 [free at jstor].

Martin, Carol A. "Gaskell, Darwin, and North and South" Studies in the Novel 15, 2 (Summer 1983), pp. 91-107 [free at jstor].

Parker, Pamela Corpron. "Fictional Philanthropy in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton and North and South." Asks, is the type of fiction Gaskell wrote in these two novels a kind of philanthropy? Victorian Literature and Culture 25, 2 (1997), pp. 321-331 [free at jstor].

Starr, Elizabeth. "'A Great Engine For Good': The Industry of Fiction in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton and North and South." Studies in the Novel 34, 4 (Winter 2002), pp. 385-402 [free at jstor].

Surridge, Lisa. "Working-Class Masculinities in Mary Barton." Surridge notes, "The industrial revolution caused massive shifts in the organization and control of family life, resulting in an adjustment of class and gender relations across large sections of English society." Victorian Literature and Culture 28, 2 (2000), pp. 331-343 [free at jstor].

Wilkes, Joanne. "'Have at the masters': literary allusions in Elizabeth Gaskell's Mary Barton." Shows how Gaskell created dialect for her working class characters by borrowing idiomatic phrases from Shakespeare, John Wycliffe, Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, William Langland and John Skelton. Studies in the Novel Summer 2007.

Literary Criticism, Other Works

Boiko, Karen. "Reading and (Re)Writing Class: Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters." Victorian Literature and Culture 33, 1 (2005), pp. 85-106 [free at jstor].

Foley, June. "The Life of Charlotte Brontë and Some Letters of Elizabeth Gaskell." Modern Language Studies 27, 3/4 (Autumn - Winter, 1997), pp. 37-46 [free at jstor].

Koustinoudi, Anna. "Disavowal, Defence and Voyeurism in the Narration of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cousin Phillis." College Literature Spring 2008.

Meir, Natalie Kapetanios. ""Household Forms And Ceremonies": Narrating Routines In Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford." Studies in the Novel 38, 1 (Spring 2006), pp. 1-14 [free at jstor].

Pettitt, Clare. "Time Lag and Elizabeth Gaskell's Transatlantic Imagination." On Gaskell's deepening connection to the United States [Sylvia's Lovers]. Victorian Studies 354, 4 (Summer 2012), pp. 599-623 [free at jstor].

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