Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, often referred to as Mrs Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature. Her first novel, Mary Barton, was published in 1848. Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë, published in 1857, was the first biography about Brontë. Some of Gaskell's best known novels are Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters.
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Margaret Hale’s life changes dramatically when her father quits his living as a parson in the idyllic New Forest in the South of England and moves the family to the northern industrial town of Milton, intending to become a private tutor. There, she is appalled at the poverty surrounding her and at first finds the local mill workers too rough, but soon she can’t help sympathizing with their plight.

John Thornton is a magistrate and owner of a prosperous cotton mill. Forced to become the head of the household at a young age and driven to keep his family from becoming impoverished again, he’s had no time for love. He certainly has no time for a lady who looks down on both him and the industry in which he earns his livelihood. Their beliefs lead them to inevitably clash, but their arguments over his treatment of his workers mask a deep attraction neither wants, and eventually, one that neither can deny.

Although it is labeled as a social novel, North and South simmers with sexual tension. Through the backdrop of a labor strike and a riot, through a possible murder and its fallout, through the deaths of loved ones, and the rise and fall of fortunes, the romance between John Thornton and Margaret Hale still entrances readers as it did when first published in 1855. In this updated version, read the steamy scenes that Ms. Gaskell, a minister’s wife, could not include in the original work, from John and Margaret’s first desperate, yet tender, lovemaking to their sizzling reunion in London.

Sensuality Level: Sensual
It was curious how the presence of Mr. Thornton had power over Mr. Hale to make him unlock the secret thoughts which he kept shut up even from Margaret. Whether it was that her sympathy would be so keen, and show itself in so lively a manner, that he was afraid of the reaction upon himself, or whether it was that to his speculative mind all kinds of doubts presented themselves at such a time, pleading and crying aloud to be resolved into certainties, and that he knew she would have shrunk from the expression of any such doubts-nay, from him himself as capable of conceiving them-whatever was the reason, he could unburden himself better to Mr. Thornton than to her of all the thoughts and fancies and fears that had been frost-bound in his brain till now.-from Chapter XXXV: "Expiation"As interest in 19th-century English literature by women has been reinvigorated by a resurgence in popularity of the works of Jane Austen, readers are rediscovering a writer whose fiction, once widely beloved, fell by the wayside. British novelist ELIZABETH CLEGHORN GASKELL (1810-1865)-whose books were sometimes initially credited to, simply, "Mrs. Gaskell"-is now recognized as having created some of the most complex and broadminded depictions of women in the literature of the age, and is today justly celebrated for her precocious use of the regional dialect and slang of England's industrial North.North and South-Gaskell's fourth novel, which was originally serialized in 1854 and 1855 in the periodical Household Words, edited by Gaskell's friend Charles Dickens-draws on Gaskell's own life as the wife of a progressive preacher in Manchester for its tale of the tumultuous romance between a minister's daughter and a wealthy mill owner. The plight of the poor as well as the class divisions of the era come to the fore here, and helped establish the author's reputation as a champion of the working class. Adapted as an acclaimed 2004 BBC miniseries, this is perhaps Gaskell's most beloved work.Friend and literary companion to such figures as Charlotte Bront -of whom Gaskell wrote an applauded 1857 biography-Gaskell is today being restored to her rightful place alongside her. This delightful new edition is an excellent opportunity for 21st-century fans of British literature to embrace one of its most unjustly forgotten authors.
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