Blogs & News

: Online Panel: Mary Barton and ‘Condition of England’ Novels

Elizabeth Gaskell spoke of the ‘unhappy state of things’ in her debut novel, Mary Barton and explored the issue again in her later work North and South. She was one of a number of authors concerned with the divide between the rich and poor. Contemporaries such as Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Kingsley, Fanny Trollope and Harriet Martineau shared her concerns in novels such as Hard Times, Bleak House, Shirley and Michael Armstrong: Factory Boy. So what answers

: Online Talk: Cynthia V Molly: ‘Love me as I am, sweet one, for I shall never be better.’

Molly is the moral heart of classic novel Wives and Daughters but it is her flawed step-sister Cynthia who may appeal to readers more. The two girls are a study in comparisons. Molly is concerned with goodness while Cynthia’s relationship with her ghastly mother Mrs Gibson echoes that of Lizzie and Mrs Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth Gaskell's final novel is a masterpiece of character observation. She shows the two women in their full complexity,

: Online Talk: Wives and Daughters – A TV Classic

The BBC TV adaptation of Wives and Daughters was hailed as the rediscovery of a ‘forgotten’ classic when it was broadcast in 1999. The series featured a wealth of stars including Francesca Annis, Keeley Hawes and a BAFTA-winning Michael Gambon. Andrew’s Davies’ screenplay peeled back the layers of Elizabeth Gaskell’s final novel. The TV series reflected both the book's comedy and the pathos of provincial life. The classic novel and TV adaptation vividly portrays life in the 1830s but

: Online Talk: Missing Mother – Motherless Girls in Literature

Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Shelley, the Brontë sisters and George Eliot were all relatively young when they lost their mothers. Moreover, all of them create female characters who are affected by the loss of a mother. But is this necessarily a bad thing in literature? What are the drawbacks and the freedoms of being motherless in Victorian fiction? Starting with Elizabeth Gaskell’s heroine Molly in Wives and Daughters, this insightful talk looks at the importance of missing mothers in

: Online Talk: Valentine’s Day – North and South

2024 marks the 20th anniversary of the BBC TV adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's classic novel. And when better to celebrate than this Valentine's Day? The groundbreaking love story of smouldering Richard Armitage as mill owner John Thornton and Daniela Denby-Ashe as complex heroine Margaret Hale broke the BBC switchboard when it first aired. Since then it has captured hearts all over the world. The original novel and the TV series, adapted by Sandy Welch, tell the story of