Writers

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Elizabeth Gaskell

1810-1865

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (née Stevenson; 29 September 1810 – 12 November 1865), often referred to as Mrs Gaskell, was an English novelist, biographer and short story writer. Elizabeth Gaskell was born Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson in Chelsea, London, to Unitarian parents, Elizabeth Holland and William Stevenson. Elizabeth Holland died in 1811 and baby Elizabeth was despatched to live with her mother’s older sister, Aunt Lumb, in Knutsford, Cheshire, about 31km from Manchester. Although William Stevenson remarried, Elizabeth visited his father rarely. Gaskell's novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of Victorian society, including the very poor. Her work is of interest to social historians as well as readers of literature. Among Gaskell's best known novels are Cranford (1851–53), North and South (1854–55), and Wives and Daughters (1865), each having been adapted for television by the BBC.