Blogs & News

blog : A Darwinian Discovery

Continuing with my project of cataloguing all the books in William’s study I reach four undistinguished looking brown volumes by Lord Henry Cockburn. Inside both covers of a two volume life of Lord Jeffrey (1773-1850, Edinburgh judge and literary critic, co-founder of The Edinburgh Review), my eye is caught by a very clear inscription Susan E Darwin, 1852. As well as these signatures, in the top left-hand corner of the front board, a tiny little label from a...

blog : Miss Coutts is very, very kind

We have a new shed! It sits very neatly in the corner of the yard and will greatly ease the cramped storage for pots, compost and tools we have had up to now. Also making its appearance, and later than we would normally expect, is the dahlia York and Lancaster in the bed to the left of the front door. There are also two gaudy plants flaunting their colours among the pots at the back of the house...

blog : Parthenope Nightingale and Ferns

The blog written by Leslie, a fellow volunteer, which drew attention to the links between Elizabeth Gaskell and Florence Nightingale  reminded me that it was one of the letters to Parthenope Nightingale that gave the garden planners added reason for planting a fern bed in the garden. We knew that the Victorian fern craze (pteridomania) was at its height from the 1850s when Mrs Gaskell lived at the house.  Sarah Whittingham's The Victorian Fern Craze, (Shire publications, 2009)...

blog : Open Book – Mrs Gaskell & Me

On Sunday 9 September, I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book with Mariella Frostrup and Nell Stevens.  On the show, we discussed the increase in profile that Elizabeth Gaskell has received in recent years: both from Nell’s own writing and from the re-opening of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester in 2014. This was also a great chance for me to talk about my own PhD research on the use of dialect in Gaskell’s work and in other...

blog : Butts, Leaves and a Shed

It's a quiet time at the moment for flowers in the garden as it recovers from the drought. But the signs are promising; shrubs I thought were dying have produced new leaves and dahlias are showing the beginnings of very delayed flower buds. There are also little delights such as the morning glory and geranium wallichianum. Human activity has not stopped, however; the volunteer gardeners not only weed, prune and plant out for later displays but have also rearranged...