Elizabeth Gaskell published Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life anonymously in 1848.
At last a novel that dealt with the local society of the world’s first industrial city in all its raw brutality!
Indeed with its harsh portrayal of the capitalist bosses who ran Manchester industry and commerce it caused something of a stir throughout the city.
The good folk who worshipped at the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel alongside her and her husband, William, the minister were horrified and suspected they were the target. How more horrified they were when they discovered the identity of the author!
Mary Barton was the first of an excellent series of novels that made Elizabeth Gaskell a major novelist. We will follow in her footsteps through haunts – the Portico Library, Cross Street Chapel, the Fever Hospital, Dover Street – which have changed (a bit), but where the tales still tell through the misty decades, and finish at the re-opened and quite wonderful Elizabeth Gaskell House in Chorlton-on-Medlock.
How the tour works
We start with a simple walk through town, looking at some key Gaskellite sites, including a stop at the Portico Library (where Mr Gaskell was chairman but which Mrs Gaskell could not join – a-ha, interesting), then take a short bus-trip to the University area to explore Dover Street, barely noticeable but packed with the most remarkable and unpredictable history, and finally another short stroll to Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.
* Please note there is an admission charge of £4.95 for the Elizabeth Gaskell House but the ticket lasts a year so you can go back.
Yes, it takes some time this one, but it’s worth it!