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The life and works of Elizabeth Gaskell

On 29 September 2017, we celebrate the 207th birthday of Elizabeth Gaskell, a nineteenth century English novelist whose works reflect the harsh conditions of England’s industrial North. Unlike some of her contemporaries, whose works are told from the perspectives of middle class characters, Gaskell did not restrict herself, and her novels Mary Barton and Ruth feature working class heroines.

In the early twentieth century, Gaskell was considered a minor novelist and was overshadowed by contemporaries such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and the Brontë sisters. She was perhaps best known for writing Charlotte Brontë’s 1857 biography, which infamously censored aspects of Brontë’s life that were considered too controversial for Victorian audiences. Today, she is remembered as a major English novelist, and her works are celebrated as both social novels and early feminist works.

Discover more about Gaskell’s life as both a writer and social reformer with this interactive timeline.

Featured image credit: Dartmoor by dennisredfield. CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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