Ruth (Google eBook)

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Digireads.com Publishing, Jan 1, 2004 - Fiction
20 Reviews
Published in England in 1853, this social novel by Elizabeth Gaskell received controversial reviews among readers of the Victorian era because of its candid portrayal of the "fallen woman." Ruth Hilton, an orphaned young seamstress, falls prey to the wiles of the young, wealthy and bored Henry Bellingham. The affair is short-lived when Ruth, carrying Bellingham's unborn child, is abandoned and left unemployed, homeless, and utterly without hope. She is saved by the minister, Thurstan Benson, who takes pity on Ruth and her illegitimate child, and helps to establish for her a respectable place in society. Upon the unforeseen return of Bellingham, the young mother must make a decision: to retain her personal pride and endure the chastisement of her community, or to succumb once again to Bellingham's advances. One of the first works to explore the social stigmas of the "fallen woman" in the context of 19th Century England, "Ruth" has remained a socially impactful work in literary history.
  

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Review: Ruth

User Review  - Laura - Goodreads

Free download available at Project Gutenberg. From BBC Radio 4 Extra: A pretty orphan is apprenticed to a dressmaker. Stars Rory Kinnear This is not my cup of tea.... Read full review

Review: Ruth

User Review  - Elizabeth - Goodreads

I really liked this book. I was a little put off by the intro in the book that talked about how melodramatic and unrealistic the character of Ruth is. I was ready to not like the book, or at least not ... Read full review

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Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Elizabeth Gaskell was the daughter of 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, mainly for Dickens, "My Lady Ludlow" and "Lois the Witch," a novella that concerns the Salem witch trials. "Wives and Daughters: An Every-day Story" 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 Bronte" was published. The biography was initially praised but angry protests came from some of the people it dealt with. Gaskell wrote of Bronte's version on his dismissal from his tutoring position. He blamed it on his refusal to be seduced by his employer's wife. She was threatened with legal action but, with the help of her husband, the problems were resolved. Gaskell was against any biographical notice of her being written during her lifetime. After her death in 1865, her family refused to make family letters or biographical data available.

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