‘We've got a house...it certainly is a beauty...I must try and make the house give as much pleasure to others as I can.’
Elizabeth Gaskell, in a letter to her friend Eliza Fox in 1850.
The House, 84 Plymouth Grove, is a Grade II* listed property, was built between 1835-1841 and is a rare example of the elegant Regency-style villas once popular in Manchester. Now, thanks to a major £2.5m project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and others, the restored House is fully open to the public for the first time.
Elizabeth Gaskell lived here from 1850-65. During this time she wrote nearly all of her famous novels, including Cranford, Ruth, North and South and Wives and Daughters. She also wrote the biography of her friend Charlotte Bronte, and many lively letters.
Visitors to the House included fellow writers Charlotte Brontë, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, the American abolitionist and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe and musician Charles Hallé.
Elizabeth, her husband William (a Unitarian minister) and their four daughters were involved in many aspects of Manchester life. They had first-hand knowledge of life among the poor through their charitable activities, and helped in the establishment of many of the city’s cultural institutions.
William and his two unmarried daughters, Meta and Julia, continued to live in the house after Elizabeth’s death. Meta died in 1913 and the house and its contents were sold.
Visitors to the house can find out about Elizabeth and William’s work, explore the lives of their daughters and servants and discover the Manchester that the Gaskells knew.