Cranford and Selected Short Stories

Front Cover
Wordsworth Editions, 2006 - Fiction - 543 pages
14 Reviews
The sheer variety and accomplishment of Elizabeth Gaskell's shorter fiction is amazing. This new volume contains six of her finest stories that have been selected specifically to demonstrate this, and to trace the development of her art. As diverse in setting as in subject matter, these tales move from the gentle comedy of life in a small English country town in Dr Harrison's Confessions, to atmospheric horror in far north-west Wales with The Doom of the Griffiths. The story of Cousin Phillis, her masterly tale of love and loss, is a subtle, complex and perceptive analysis of changes in English national life during an industrial age, while the gripping Lois the Witch recreates the terrors of the Salem witchcraft trials in seventeenth-century New England, as Gaskell shrewdly shows the numerous roots of this furious outbreak of delusion. Whimsically modified fairy tales are set in a French chateau, while an engaging love story poetically evokes peasant life in wine-growing Germany.
  

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Review: Cranford & Other Stories (Wordsworth Classics)

User Review  - Mel - Goodreads

I absoultely loved the BBC production of Cranford and decided I should read the stories. The collection I found actually contained Cranford, Dr. Harrison's Confessions, The Doom of the Griffiths, Lois ... Read full review

Review: Cranford and Selected Short Stories (Wordsworth Classics)

User Review  - Helen Graham - Goodreads

Cranford is a masterpiece of a domestic not-at-all-exciting novel. It was light, bright and funny most of the times. Judging from short stories presented in this books, I don't think Elizabeth Gaskell ... Read full review

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Contents

INTRODUCTION TO Cranford
7
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE ON THE AUTHOR
19
Cranford
177
INTRODUCTION TO The Short Stories
187
Curious if True
194
Thi s
319
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Elizabeth Gaskell was born on September 29, 1810 to a Unitarian clergyman, who was also a civil servant and journalist. Her mother died when she was young, and she was brought up by her aunt in Knutsford, a small village that was the prototype for Cranford, Hollingford and the setting for numerous other short stories. In 1832, she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian clergyman in Manchester. She participated in his ministry and collaborated with him to write the poem Sketches among the Poor in 1837. Our Society at Cranford was the first two chapters of Cranford and it appeared in Dickens' Household Words in 1851. Dickens liked it so much that he pressed Gaskell for more episodes, and she produced eight more of them between 1852 and 1853. She also wrote My Lady Ludlow and Lois the Witch, a novella that concerns the Salem witch trials. Wives and Daughters ran in Cornhill from August 1864 to January 1866. The final installment was never written but the ending was known and the novel exists now virtually complete. The story centers on a series of relationships between family groups in Hollingford. Most critics agree that her greatest achievement is the short novel Cousin Phillis. Gaskell was also followed by controversy. In 1853, she offended many readers with Ruth, which explored seduction and illegitimacy that led the "fallen woman" into ostracism and inevitable prostitution. The novel presents the social conduct in a small community when tolerance and morality clash. Critics praised the novel's moral lessons but Gaskell's own congregation burned the book and it was banned in many libraries. In 1857, The Life of Charlotte Brontė was published. The biography was initially praised but angry protests came from some of the people it dealt with. Gaskell was against any biographical notice of her being written during her lifetime. After her death on November 12, 1865, her family refused to make family letters or biographical data available.

John Chapple is Emeritus Professor at the University of Hull.
Alan Shelston is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Manchester.

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