Thursday, 23 September 2010


84 Plymouth Grove in Manchester.

Cross Street Unitarian Chapel.

Elizabeth Gaskell

The Reverend William Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell's grave in Knutsford, Cheshire. Knutsford was the original inspiration for Cranford.Elizabeth died in1865 whilst visiting a house she had bought in Holybourne in Hampshire, about a mile north of Alton and three miles from Chawton where Jane Austen lived. She was 55 years old.Her body was brought back to Knutsford for burial.

In contrast to these are her novels Cranford and Wives and Daughters which are about the social manners of the time.
She came to Manchester in 1832 as the wife of the Unitarian minister of Cross Street Unitarian Chapel. At their home in Plymouth Grove,they entertained Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, William Thackeray the novelist who wrote Vanity Fair a portrait of English society, John Ruskin the art critic, social thinker, poet and artist and Thomas Carlyle the Scottish satirical writer, essayist and historian. There is a theme of social conscience and awareness of the state of society amongst this entire group.
When the last of her family died, her daughter, Margaret, a sale catalogue of all the contents of the house was made. This is in Manchester’s archives and is often the most requested item from researchers into the life of Elizabeth Gaskell. It is available with a box of cuttings on request. Manchester’s collection is the leading collection of printed resources about Elizabeth Gaskell.
The collection contains manuscripts of the short story How The Fourth Floor Came To Crowley Castle and some other fragments of writing. Music manuscripts books begun in her school days and giving evidence about her education and character. Letters in manuscript, including letters about the cotton famine that she wrote to Vernon Lushington. The letters give a description of the conditions people suffered in the mills. There are other letters available in Manchester’s Central library.
There are personal items including autographed first editions and guide books she used on her travels around Europe. There are over 230 editions of her novels in the collection including first editions, translations, American editions and the latest edited texts. There are biographies, periodical articles, dissertations, boxes of photographs, newspaper cuttings and this collection is being added to all the time. There are her husband, the Reverend William Gaskell’s, sermons, hymns and cuttings including a complete run of The Unitarian Examiner, which he edited.
In 2008 Manchester City Council gave the go ahead for 84 Plymouth Grove to get a 2.5 million pound upgrade. It is one of the few Regency Style Villas left in Manchester. The work carried out was to repair dry rot, provide a new roof, new drains and lime plaster on the exterior walls. The original features were restored.
The work is now completed, the house is used for a wide range of community events, exhibitions and meetings.
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Elizabeth Gaskell, Manchester City Council has created a special Elizabeth Gaskell award to add to their 2010 Womens Awards. It will be presented to a group or individual woman that has promoted the role of women in public life and has made a significant contribution to charities and humanitarianism.

  • 14.) Your Gaskell Library – Links to MP3′s, ebooks, audio books, other downloads and reading resources available online: Janite Deb -Jane Austen in Vermont
  • 15.) Plymouth Grove – A visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s home in Manchester: Tony Grant – London Calling


  1. Elizabeth Gaskell is today's (September 29th.) 'Life of the Day' from the 'new' Oxford DNB
    [Warning - link is only valid for one week, the lives vary]

  2. Tony, did you know that Elizabeth Gaskell was recently included in The Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey? Fascinating.

  3. Thanks Michael. I have copied and saved The Oxford DBN article.

    I read about that in a news article, Vic.
    The next time I'm in Westminster Abbey then!!!!!!!!

  4. Tony, surprising to learn that Gaskell died so close to Jane Austen! She admired Austen, although her writing does tend to be closer to the other Victorians. An amazing writer, though!

  5. That is interesting about the Gaskell award. Wonderful to know they honor her enough to make an award to immortalize her beyond her work!

  6. I did not know Gaskell died so close to where Austen lived, that is interesting. I always solely associated her with Manchester.

  7. Thank you for all of your research. I had heard that Manchester has a large collection of her artifacts, but it must be substantial. I doubt that I will ever make it to Manchester, but thanks to the internet and celebrations such as this I can enjoy almost being there.

  8. Wonderful post! One day I'd love to visit these sites.


  9. Interesting post. It is a good thing that the powers that be recognized the need to restore and maintain the Gaskell home.

  10. I am happy to learn that her home on Plymouth Grove is being restored. I hope you can visit it Tony. I would also love to learn about her home in Alton where she died, so near Jane Austen's home at Steventon. Thank you for contributing to the blog tour. I love the vintage photos and information on Manchester is very helpful

    Cheers, Laurel Ann

  11. Excellent post and a fine end to the tour - I have enjoyed it all immensely.

  12. I find it fascinating that she died so near to Austen's home...I have marked her home and other locations on my list of places to visit when I finally am able to make my "tour" of England. It's wonderful to see it being restored but not altered. I would love to read the letters she wrote on "mill conditions"...Wonderful post.

    Thank you,

  13. They have an impressive collection of artifacts. I wish that I lived closer so that I could pay a visit to Gaskell's home. Oh well, maybe next time I'm on the other side of the pond;).

  14. Thanks for the pictures and commentary.

  15. I'm very grateful for this glimpse to Gaskell's Manchester, since I doubt I will ever be able to visit all those places. Maybe some other time, beside taking us to more Austen's places, Tony, you could take us to Knutsford too, please. Once again, thank you.

    And thanks to Laurel Ann for the bicentennial celebration tour.

  16. Hi Cinthia. Thank you for your kind comment.

    Knutsford is in Cheshire, not many miles from Manchester and Liverpool.However, it is over 200 miles from where I live in Wimbledon. I sometimes visit friends in Manchester and Liverpool. When I am next up there I will try and find the time to visit Knutsford on the way.If I do I will definitely write a post about my visit.

    If you look at Jane Austen Today, Jane Austen's World and London Calling, my blog, you will find many articles about places connected with Jane Austen.

  17. The perfect last stop to this blog tour! =) It's nice to know that Gaskell's home has been restored and that a special award for women has been named in her honor... Finally, she is getting the respect she deserves.

    I also didn't know that she died so near Jane Austen's home. Kindred spirits indeed...

    I shall be sure to watch out for your future post about Knutsford.

  18. I'm curious to know, did Gaskell win any awards or recognitions for her work while she was still alive?
    I'm writing an author profile on her for school and would love to know Asap!