Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (née Stevenson; 29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature.

Early life
She was born Elizabeth Stevenson in 1810 at 93, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, which was then on the outskirts of London. Her mother, Eliza Holland, was from a prominent Midlands family that was well-connected with other Unitarian and prominent families like the Wedgwoods and the Darwins. She died in 1812 when Elizabeth was a baby. Elizabeth was one of eight children, of whom only she and her brother John (born 1806) survived. John later went missing in 1827 on a voyage to India.

Her father, William Stevenson, a Unitarian minister and a writer, remarried after Elizabeth's mother died.

Much of Elizabeth's childhood was spent in Cheshire, where she lived with an aunt, Mrs Hannah Lumb, in Knutsford, a town she would later immortalise as Cranford. They lived in a large redbrick house, Heathwaite, on Heathside (now Gaskell Avenue), which faces the large open area of Knutsford Heath.

She also spent some time in Newcastle upon Tyne (with Rev. William Turner) and Edinburgh. Her stepmother was a sister of the Scottish miniature artist, William John Thomson, who painted a famous portrait of Elizabeth in 1832. In the same year, Elizabeth married William Gaskell, the minister at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester, who had a literary career of his own. They honeymooned in North Wales, staying with Elizabeth's uncle, Samuel Holland, who lived near Porthmadog.

[edit] Married life and Plymouth Grove

Elizabeth Gaskell — from the 1851 portrait by George RichmondThe Gaskells settled in Manchester, where the industrial surroundings would offer inspiration for her novels (in the industrial genre). They had several children: a stillborn daughter in 1833, followed by Marianne (1834), Margaret Emily (1837), known as Meta, Florence Elizabeth (1842), William (1844-1845) and Julia Bradford (1846). Her daughter Florence married a barrister, Charles Crompton, in 1862.

They rented a villa in Plymouth Grove in 1850, after the publication of Gaskell's first novel, and Gaskell lived in the house with her family until her death 15 years later.[2] All of Gaskell's books, bar one, were written at Plymouth Grove, while her husband held welfare committees and tutored the poor in his study. The circles in which the Gaskells moved included literary greats, religious dissenters and social reformers, including William and Mary Howitt. Visitors to Plymouth Grove included Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, Harriet Beecher Stowe and American writer Charles Eliot Norton, while conductor Charles Hallé lived close by, and taught the piano to one of Gaskell's four daughters. Close friend Charlotte Brontë is known to have stayed there three times, and on one occasion hid behind the drawing room curtains as she was too shy to meet Gaskell's visitors.[3]

Gaskell died in Holybourne, Hampshire in 1865 aged 55. The house on Plymouth Grove remained in the Gaskell family until 1913.

[edit] Works
Gaskell's first novel, Mary Barton, was published anonymously in 1848. The best known of her remaining novels are Cranford (1853), North and South (1854), and Wives and Daughters (1865). She became popular for her writing, especially her ghost story writing, aided by her friend Charles Dickens, who published her work in his magazine Household Words. Her ghost stories are quite distinct in style from her industrial fiction and belong to the Gothic fiction genre.

Even though her writing conforms to Victorian conventions (including signing her name "Mrs. Gaskell"), Gaskell usually frames her stories as critiques of contemporary attitudes, particularly those toward women, with complex narratives and dynamic female characters.[4]

In addition to her fiction, Gaskell also wrote the first biography of Charlotte Brontë, which played a significant role in developing her fellow writer's reputation.

[edit] Dialect usage
Gaskell's style is notable for putting local dialect words into the voice of middle-class characters and of the narrator; for example in North and South, Margaret Hale suggests redding up (tidying) the Bouchers' house and even offers jokingly to teach her mother words such as knobstick (strike-breaker).[5] Her husband collected Lancashire dialect, and Gaskell defended her use of dialect as expressing otherwise inexpressible concepts in an 1854 letter to Walter Savage Landor:[5]

:'...you will remember the country people's use of the word "unked". I can't find any other word to express the exact feeling of strange unusual desolate discomfort, and I sometimes "potter" and "mither" people by using it.'[6]

She used the dialect word "nesh" (soft), which goes back to Old English, in Mary Barton:

"Sit you down here: the grass is well nigh dry by this time; and you're neither of you nesh folk about taking cold."[7]

and later in 'The Manchester Marriage' [1858]:

"Now, I'm not above being nesh for other folks myself. I can stand a good blow, and never change colour; but, set me in the operating-room in the Infirmary, and I turn as sick as a girl." "At Mrs Wilson's death, Norah came back to them, as nurse to the newly-born little Edwin; into which post she was not installed without a pretty strong oration on the part of the proud and happy father; who declared that if he found out that Norah ever tried to screen the boy by a falsehood, or to make him nesh either in body or mind, she should go that very day."[8]

[edit] Publications

[edit] Novels
Mary Barton (1848)
Cranford (1851-3)
Ruth (1853)
North and South (1854-5)
Sylvia's Lovers (1863)
Cousin Phillis (1864)
Wives and Daughters: An Everyday Story (1865)

[edit] Collections
The Moorland Cottage (1850)
The Old Nurse's Story (1852)
Lizzie Leigh (1855)
My Lady Ludlow (1859)
Round the Sofa (1859)
Lois the Witch (1861)
A Dark Night's Work (1863)

[edit] Short stories (partial)
Libbie Marsh's Three Eras (1847)
Christmas Storms and Sunshine (1848)
The Squire's Story (1853)
Half a Life-time Ago (1855)
An Accursed Race (1855)
"The Manchester Marriage" (1858), a chapter of A House to Let, co-written with Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Adelaide Anne Procter
The Half-brothers (1859)
The Grey Woman (1861)

[edit] Non-fiction
The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857)

[edit] References
^ [1] "Children in Early Victorian England: Infant Feeding in Literature and Society 1837-1857." Tropical Pediatrics and Environmental Child Health August 1978
^ Uglow J. Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories (Faber and Faber; 1993) (ISBN 0-571-20359-0)
^ Nurden, Robert. 'An ending Dickens would have liked' Independent (26 March 2006)
^ Excluding Reference to Gaskell's Ghost Stories, Abrams, M.H., et al. (Eds.) "Elizabeth Gaskell, 1810-1865". The Norton Anthology of English Literature, The Major Authors: The Romantic Period through the Twentieth Century, 7th ed., Vol. B. New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2001. ISBN 0-393-97304-2. DDC 820.8--dc21. LC PR1109.N6.
^ a b Ingham P. (1995) Introduction to the Penguin Classics edition of North and South
^ Chapple JAV, Pollard A, eds. The Letters of Mrs Gaskell. Mandolin (Manchester University Press), 1997
^ Gaskell E. (1848) Mary Barton, chapter 1
^ Victorian Short Stories, Stories Of Successful Marriages, The Project Gutenberg

John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy OM (IPA: /ˈgɔːlzwɜːðɪ/) (14 August 1867 – 31 January 1933) was an English novelist and playwright. Notable works include The Forsyte Saga (1906–1921) and its sequels, A Modern Comedy and End of the Chapter. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1932.
Galsworthy was born at Kingston Hill in Surrey, England into an established wealthy family, the son of John and Blanche Bailey (nee Bartleet) Galsworthy. He attended Harrow and New College, Oxford, training as a barrister and was called to the bar in 1890. However, he was not keen to begin practising law and instead travelled abroad to look after the family's shipping business interests. During these travels he met Joseph Conrad, then the first mate of a sailing-ship moored in the harbour of Adelaide, Australia, and the two future novelists became close friends. In 1895 Galsworthy began an affair with Ada Nemesis Pearson, the wife of one of his cousins. After her divorce the pair eventually married on 23 September 1905 and stayed together until his death in 1933.

From the Four Winds was Galsworthy's first published work in 1897, a collection of short stories. These, and several subsequent works, were published under the pen name John Sinjohn and it would not be until The Island Pharisees (1904) that he would begin publishing under his own name, probably owing to the death of his father. His first play, The Silver Box (1906) became a success, and he followed it up with The Man of Property (1906), the first in the Forsyte trilogy. Although he continued writing both plays and novels it was as a playwright he was mainly appreciated at the time. Along with other writers of the time such as Shaw his plays addressed the class system and social issues, two of the best known being Strife (1909) and The Skin Game (1920).

He is now far better known for his novels and particularly The Forsyte Saga, the first of three trilogies of novels about the eponymous family and connected lives. These books, as with many of his other works, dealt with class, and in particular upper-middle class lives. Although sympathetic to his characters he highlights their insular, snobbish and acquisitive attitudes and their suffocating moral codes. He is viewed as one of the first writers of the Edwardian era; challenging in his works some of the ideals of society depicted in the proceeding literature of Victorian England. The depiction of a woman in an unhappy marriage furnishes another recurring theme in his work. The character of Irene in The Forsyte Saga is drawn from Ada Pearson even though her previous marriage was not as miserable as Irene's.

Bury House, Galsworthy's West Sussex home.His work is often less convincing when it deals with the changing face of wider British society and how it affects people of the lower social classes. Through his writings he campaigned for a variety of causes including prison reform, women's rights, animal welfare and censorship, but these have limited appeal outside the era in which they were written. During World War I he worked in a hospital in France as an orderly after being passed over for military service. He was elected as the first president of the International PEN literary club in 1921, was appointed to the Order of Merit in 1929—after earlier turning down a knighthood—and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1932.

John Galsworthy lived for the final seven years of his life at Bury in West Sussex. He died from a brain tumour at his London home, Grove Lodge, Hampstead. In accordance with his will he was cremated at Woking and his ashes scattered over the South Downs from an aeroplane[1], but there is also a memorial in Highgate 'New' Cemetery [2]. The popularity of his fiction waned quickly after his death but the hugely successful adaptation of The Forsyte Saga in 1967 renewed interest in the writer.

A number of John Galsworthy's letters and papers are held at the University of Birmingham Special Collections.

[edit] Adaptations
The Forsyte Saga has been filmed several times:

That Forsyte Woman (1949), dir. by Compton Bennett, an MGM adaptation in which Errol Flynn played a rare villainous role as Soames.
BBC television drama (1967), dir. by James Cellan Jones, David Giles, starring Eric Porter, Nyree Dawn Porter, Kenneth More, Susan Hampshire, Joseph O'Conor, adaptor Lennox Philips and others, 26 parts
Granada television drama (2002), dir. by Christopher Menaul, starring Gina McKee, Damian Lewis, Rupert Graves, Corin Redgrave, 13 parts.
The Skin Game was adapted and directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1931. It starred VC France, Helen Haye, Jill Esmond, Edmund Gwenn, John Longden.

Escape was filmed in 1930 and 1948. The latter was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, starring Rex Harrison, Peggy Cummins, William Hartnell. The screenplay was by Philip Dunne.

One More River (a film version of Galsworthy's Over the River) was filmed by James Whale in 1934. The film starred Frank Lawton, Colin Clive (one of Whale's most frequently used actors), and Diana Wynyard. It also featured Mrs. Patrick Campbell in a rare sound film appearance.

[edit] Selected works
From The Four Winds, 1897 (as John Sinjohn)
Jocelyn, 1898 (as John Sinjohn)
Villa Rubein, 1900 (as John Sinjohn)
A Man Of Devon, 1901 (as John Sinjohn)
The Island Pharisees, 1904
The Silver Box, 1906 (his first play)
The Forsyte Saga, 1906-21, 1922
The Man Of Property, 1906
(interlude) Indian Summer of a Forsyte, 1918
In Chancery, 1920
(interlude) Awakening, 1920
To Let, 1921
The Country House, 1907
A Commentary, 1908
Fraternity, 1909
A Justification For The Censorship Of Plays, 1909
Strife, 1909
Fraternity, 1909
Joy, 1909
Justice, 1910
A Motley, 1910
The Spirit Of Punishment, 1910
Horses In Mines, 1910
The Patrician, 1911
The Little Dream, 1911
The Pigeon, 1912
The Eldest Son, 1912
Moods, Songs, And Doggerels, 1912
For Love Of Beasts, 1912
The Inn Of Tranquillity, 1912
The Dark Flower, 1913
The Fugitive, 1913
The Mob, 1914
The Freelands, 1915
The Little Man, 1915
A Bit's Love, 1915
A Sheaf, 1916
The Apple Tree, 1916
Beyond, 1917
Five Tales, 1918
Saint's Progress, 1919
Addresses In America, 1912
The Foundations, 1920
In Chancery, 1920
Awakening, 1920
The Skin Game , 1920
To Let, 1920
A Family Man, 1922
The Little Man, 1922
Loyalties, 1922
Windows, 1922
Captures, 1923
Abracadabra, 1924
The Forest, 1924
Old English, 1924
The Show, 1925
Escape, 1926
Verses New And Old, 1926
Castles In Spain, 1927
A Modern Comedy, 1924-1928, 1929
The White Monkey, 1924
(Interlude) a Silent Wooing, 1927
The Silver Spoon, 1926
(Interlude) Passers By, 1927
Swan Song, 1928
Two Forsyte Interludes, 1927
The Manaton Edition, 1923-26 (collection, 30 vols.)
Exiled, 1929
The Roof, 1929
On Forsyte Change, 1930
Two Essays On Conrad, 1930
Soames And The Flag, 1930
The Creation Of Character In Literature, 1931 (The Romanes Lecture for 1931).
Maid In Waiting, 1931
Forty Poems, 1932
Flowering Wilderness, 1932
Over the River, 1933
Autobiographical Letters Of Galsworthy: A Correspondence With Frank Harris, 1933
The Grove Edition, 1927-34 (collection, 27 Vols.)
Collected Poems, 1934
End Of the Chapter, 1931-1933, 1934 (posthumously)
Maid In Waiting, 1931
Flowering Wilderness, 1932
One More River, 1933 (originally the English edition was called Over the River)
Punch And Go, 1935
The Life And Letters, 1935
The Winter Garden, 1935
Forsytes, Pendyces And Others, 1935
Selected Short Stories, 1935
Glimpses And Reflections, 1937
Galsworthy's Letters To Leon Lion, 1968
Letters From John Galsworthy 1900-1932, 1970
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