19th century black and white print of mill workers

What's On

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 could these literary giants offer? How did popular writers such as Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens bring social issues to a wider audience? Join our expert panel as they explore these so-called ‘Condition of England’ novels in the grand finale to our Mary Barton season. Perfect for anyone who wants to find out more about the background to some Victorian classics.

An absorbing and fascinating talk. Prof. Sanders is an expert in his field, and his presentation, and the way he dealt with questions from the audience, made for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative hour.’ Previous audience member 

Ingrid Hanson’s knowledge of the material was amazing; wonderful grasp of material; compelling presentation, interesting insights.‘ Previous audience member


The panel will be chaired by Libby Tempest, Vice Chair of the Gaskell Society, a lifelong librarian and a tour guide at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

  • Dr Ingrid Hanson – Lecturer in English literature at the University of Manchester, researching radical Victorian and early 20th century protest literature, antiwar writings and utopian imaginings, and Victorian poetry.
  • Dr Emma Liggins – Reader in English Literature and Co-Director of the Long Nineteenth-Century Network at Manchester Metropolitan University.
  • Prof Michael Sanders – Professor of 19th Century Writing at University of Manchester, researching the relationship between culture and politics in 19th century working-class radicalism and Chartism.

Part of the Mary Barton season

Tickets £5

Wednesday 22 November, 7-8pm

The panel will be approx 45 mins long, with time for a short question session afterwards.

**Refer to your e-ticket for joining instructions and links. Please check your spam/junk mail for ticket. This talk will also be recorded and all ticketholders will receive a link to the recording via TicketSource after the event.**

You can also support the House by buying a copy of Mary Barton from our online shop via this link.

If you have any questions about this event, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is run by Manchester Historic Buildings Trust (charity no. 1080606) and all money gained through private tours, talks, room hire and ticket sales goes towards the ongoing maintenance and running costs of the House. If you would like to support the House with an additional donation you can do so via this link.

22nd Nov 2023

7pm - 8pm

Talk, Talks

To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood…

Wives and Daughters