New for 2023 – Tales of Manchester Life – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester

13th December 2022
in news

A new exhibition will open in April 2023 that will explore how the Victorian writer Elizabeth Gaskell presented Manchester and its people through her novels and short stories, and the impact she had through her writing. Elizabeth was a true radical of her time, but as a woman the influence and importance of her writing has not been recognised by history in the way that it has for her contemporaries such as Charles Dickens.  Seeking to redress this, Tales of Manchester Life – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester will take place in Elizabeth’s former home, now a heritage visitor attraction.

Elizabeth’s writings about the industrial north made a huge impression during her lifetime, not just for the choice of subject matter, but for the painstaking detail that she went into.  In Mary Barton (published in 1848) her descriptions of the appalling state of impoverished workers in the industrial centres of the north and her sympathetic treatment of their plight was said to have been so powerful that it ‘pricked the conscience of a nation.’  To readers today, as well as being works to enjoy, the detail and observations in novels such as North and South offers a window through to the past, with elements such as the living conditions and dialect of the time all perfectly recorded for posterity. 

The exhibition, the research for which is led by volunteers, will explore not only how the city of Manchester and its people are presented by Elizabeth in her writing, but how relevant this is to the world today.  Elizabeth didn’t just write about poverty, class divide and inequality she was an active citizen who wanted to see change; how she went about this is also something that a visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House reveals in the recently opened Brontë Room.

Tales of Manchester Life – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester will be accompanied by a  series of Family Friendly activities and online talks all of which will be bookable from  The project has been made possible with support from Art Fund and some match funding from Museum Development North West.

Funding for Tales of Manchester Life – Elizabeth Gaskell’s Manchester

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has received funding from Art Fund with some match funding from Museum Development North West.  The Recovery & Reset grants have been made possible through Museum Development UK’s continued partnership with Art Fund.   MDUK secured an additional £200,000 from Art Fund to support museums in recovery and reset from COVID-19.

A Large Cheerful, airy house, quite out of Manchester smoke.

Charlotte Brontë on visiting the House, 1851