On Sunday 9 September, I appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book with Mariella Frostrup and Nell Stevens. On the show, we discussed the increase in profile that Elizabeth Gaskell has received in recent years: both from Nell’s own writing and from the re-opening of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester in 2014.
This was also a great chance for me to talk about my own PhD research on the use of dialect in Gaskell’s work and in other Victorian novels. Gaskell is distinctive in looking for ways to legitimise the working-class voice; she cites Chaucer and Lydgate as sources for dialect words, while challenging traditional caricatures of non-standard language. I read an extract from Mary Barton on the show, which never fails to move me. The episode is available to listen to online and will be repeated on Radio 4 on Thursday 13 September at 3.30pm or you can listen on iPlayer via the link below (the discussion starts at about 7.20 minutes in);
Being a volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has added an extra dimension to my academic work on Gaskell’s writing. With its original doorbell and large windows, Gaskell’s vibrant and busy life is brought to life in the House. Working as a volunteer here has allowed me to understand Gaskell’s writing processes with a greater clarity. Whether as a visitor or a volunteer, I encourage everyone to spend time at the House, which forms a fantastic part of our regional and cultural history.
I appeared on Open Book with Nell Stevens (pictured below on the right), whose newly-released Mrs Gaskell & Me charts Gaskell’s encounters in Italy in 1857 alongside Stevens’ own efforts to balance a PhD on Gaskell with a long-distance relationship. It’s a gripping read, exploring the relationships that shape us—those that span centuries as well as oceans.
As part of the 2018 Manchester Literature Festival, Nell will be in conversation with Libby Tempest, Chair of The Gaskell Society, on 17 October. She will be discussing Mrs Gaskell & Me in the iconic setting of Elizabeth Gaskell own home: you can book the last few remaining tickets here.
Georgia Thurston, Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House (and radio star!)