Wives and Daughters: An exciting events programme for you in 2024
‘Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.’
Wives and Daughters was Elizabeth Gaskell’s last, and unfinished, novel. It has been called ‘the most underrated novel in English’. The story centers on young Molly’s response to her father’s new marriage and its impact on those around her. Set in a small English country town, the book is a literary masterpiece. Its wit and charm are often compared to writers like Jane Austen and George Eliot.
In 2024 you can join a host of events celebrating this fascinating novel and TV series.
Start with a full introduction to the novel, looking at the social and personal context in which it was written. Then try talks on everything from historic locations, characters, ‘missing’ mothers and the ITV television adaptation.
Watch this space as more events are added all throughout the year including a new partnership with the George Eliot Fellowship.
All talks are online and £5 per person unless otherwise stated. All previous event recordings are available for purchase and if you book, you will receive the recording whether you watch live or not – please see our FAQ. You can also support the house by buying Wives and Daughters from our online shop.
So, read on and see what awaits you…
Online Talk: Wives and Daughters – An Introduction
Wednesday 17 January 2024, 7-8pm
Our season of Wives and Daughters events begins with a special introduction to Elizabeth Gaskell’s final book. The novel tells the story of Molly Gibson as she grows up in a rural English town with her doctor father, difficult stepmother and beautiful stepsister. You can find out more about the context in which the book was written, including Victorian social change and Elizabeth’s personal life. Wives and Daughters teems with understated wit, offering a wry social commentary on rural life. Join popular speaker Elizabeth Williams as she introduces us to this classic novel.
‘Elizabeth conveyed her intimate knowledge of Gaskell’s life and works lightly and easily. I learnt a lot, quickly and effortlessly.’ Audience member
Online Talk: The Real Wives and Daughters Locations
Wednesday 31 January 2024, 7-8pm
Enjoy a literary journey of discovery as Dr Diane Duffy takes you on a virtual visit to the places, buildings and landmarks featured in Elizabeth Gaskell’s classic novel Wives and Daughters. Extracts from the book map the way to locations around Knutsford and the Cheshire countryside. Join us for a fascinating new insight into Elizabeth’s final literary masterpiece.
This intriguing talk will interest anyone who wants to find out more about the historic reality of Elizabeth’s writing and Victorian life.
Online Talk: Missing Mother – Motherless Girls in Literature
Wednesday 20 March 2024, 7-8pm
Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Shelley, the Brontë sisters and George Eliot were all relatively young when they lost their mothers. Moreover, all of them created female characters who are affected by the loss of a mother. But is this necessarily a bad thing? What are the drawbacks and the freedoms of being motherless in Victorian fiction? Starting with Elizabeth Gaskell’s heroine Molly in Wives and Daughters, this insightful talk looks at the importance of missing mothers in classic literature.
Join expert Sherry Ashworth for a closer look at motherless girls in literature. Perfect for anyone who enjoys 19th century women’s writing from some of the giants of Victorian literature!
‘Extremely interesting. Sherry is excellent!’ Visitor to online event
Online Talk: Wives and Daughters- TV Classic
Wednesday 17 April 2024, 7-8pm
The BBC TV adaptation of Wives and Daughters was hailed as the rediscovery of a ‘forgotten’ classic when it was broadcast in 1999. The series featured a wealth of stars including Francesca Annis, Keeley Hawes and a BAFTA-winning Michael Gambon. Andrew’s Davies’ screenplay pealed back the layers of Elizabeth Gaskell’s final novel. The TV series reflected both the book’s comedy and the pathos of provincial life.
The classic novel and TV adaptation vividly portraits life in the 1830s but the character study and relationships between family members will be familiar to any age. Enjoy a wealth of characters from young Molly and her put-upon father to the rural squire and the scheming wife. Libby Tempest takes a closer look at the faithful adaptation of Wives and Daughters from page to screen.
‘The speaker was fantastic, warm, enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and full of infectious love for her subject’ Visitor to previous Libby Tempest event
Online Talk: Cynthia V Molly: ‘Love me as I am, sweet one, for I shall never be better.’
Wednesday 12 June 2024, 7-8pm
Molly is the moral heart of classic novel Wives and Daughters but it is her flawed step-sister Cynthia who may appeal to readers more. The two girls are a study in comparisons. Molly is concerned with goodness while Cynthia’s relationship with her ghastly mother Mrs Gibson echoes that of Lizzie and Mrs Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Elizabeth Gaskell’s final novel is a masterpiece of character observation. She shows the two women in their full complexity, using humour and poignancy.
Now Sherry Ashworth compares and contrasts these two unique characters written by Elizabeth at the height of her literary powers.
‘Truly found well organised, technically good and great insights’ Audience feedback
Watch this space – more events to be added soon!