Unmarried women book cover

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Online Event – Unmarried Women: A Life of Freedom?

Elizabeth Gaskell’s last novel, Wives and Daughters, explored the position of women in 19th century society and the pressure on them to marry. Her book had much to say about marriage, including storylines like Mrs Gibson’s marriage of necessity, Cynthia’s secret engagement and Molly’s hoped-for love-match. Now we compare fiction with reality in this special dual talk on Unmarried Women.

Firstly, popular speaker Elizabeth Williams explores the life and options for unmarried women in Wives and Daughters and other Elizabeth Gaskell novels. How did the writer view marriage? Did she suggest other options to her readers?

Secondly, writer Charlotte Furness introduces four historical women, who each challenged and defied the societal expectations of their times by making the conscious decision not to marry a man. She brings to light the life and times of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Elizabeth Isham of Lamport Hall, Anne Robinson of Saltram and Rosalie Chichester of Arlington Court. To what extent could these real women live the life they wanted?

Join us for an evening looking at unmarried women in fact and fiction.

PS We know that Anne Lister was, now rather famously, actually married to another woman, but we are looking at women who rejected social expectations of traditional marriage.

• Elizabeth Williams taught in a variety of institutions including schools, colleges, the British Council in Finland and a mental hospital. She has been chairwoman of the Gaskell Society and a trustee of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.
• Charlotte Furness is a writer and heritage historian, exploring women’s history and the history of the country house. She previously worked for English Heritage, Lamport Hall, Harewood House, Temple Newsam House, Renishaw Hall and more. She is author of Lady of the House and Unmarried Women of the Country Estate. You can visit her website via this link to Charlotte Furness website.

Elizabeth Williams conveyed her intimate knowledge of Gaskell’s life and works lightly and easily. I learnt a lot, quickly and effortlessly.’  Audience member

Wednesday 16 October, 7-8pm

Tickets £5

**Refer to your e-ticket for zoom 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 Wives and Daughters 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.

16th Oct 2024

7pm - 8pm

Talk, Talks

And we've got a house. Yes! we really have

Elizabeth Gaskell, 1850