Gaskell House Blogs

Tales from a Second-hand Book Sale

2nd December 2021
in blog, Events, Gaskell House Blogs, Literature

It’s ‘possibly the best second-hand book sale in Manchester’ according to one of our regular visitors, and we certainly agree! We have a full book sale once a month here at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, but there are always plenty of books for sale in the Tea Room and in the Servants’ Hall for our visitors to enjoy. Many of them do leave with some treasure they’ve discovered! One of the joys of being in the House is the opportunity we volunteers have of scouring the shelves and boxes for our next read. And what gems we find! It’s like the cafe in Paris, wait long enough and that elusive book which you missed when it was first published will appear to your great satisfaction – and I’m sure that’s not just me!

Granta published Diana Athill’s award winning biography Somewhere towards the end in 2008 to great acclaim. It was on my reading list and then shamefully it dropped off – so many books, so little time… So I was delighted to find a lovely copy in our book sale and home it came. I would recommend it – I hugely enjoyed her witty, honest and unsentimental discussion of aging. And even better, I discovered she’s a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell, and a particularly perceptive one too, and she also thoroughly enjoyed Jenny Uglow’s Elizabeth Gaskell biography. Here’s what she has to say:

My escapes have been into gardening, drawing, pottering and – the one I use most often – into books: reading them, reviewing them or (a new use of this particular occupation) writing them. I say ‘a new use’, but it is new only as far as I am concerned. I have just been reading Jenny Uglow’s life of Mrs Gaskell, and if ever someone perfected employment of this method, she did, having had the luck to be born with enough energy for at least ten people. The obligations she accepted willingly, even happily, and survived by dodging, were those of marriage and motherhood, and neither her husband nor her daughters ever had cause to complain; but somehow she managed to clear spaces in her intensely busy life in which to be purely herself and write her books. Or perhaps it was less a matter of clearing spaces than of having the ability to concentrate her attention fully on what she wanted to do in whatever space, however limited, became available. It is odd that she is so often considered a rather humdrum figure, when she was in fact one of dazzling vitality, a quality much to be envied.

Find the dates of our second-hand book sale series here, and we look forward to seeing you! What will your haul be?

Lesley, Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood…

Wives and Daughters