Elizabeth Gaskell: The Early Years

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This absorbing study of Elizabeth Gaskell's early life up to her marriage in 1832 is based almost entirely on new evidence. Also, using parish records, marriage settlements, property transfers, wills, record office documents, letters, journals and private papers, John Chapple has recreated the background of one of the nineteenth century's greatest novelists. The widely differing lives of her father, brother and the aunt who raised her are illuminated at length by these original documents. Chapple has discovered a number of letters written by close relations that shed new light on her upbringing, and he analyses three hitherto unknown travel journals buy her Knutsford cousins which prove that she grew up in a literary milieu. Other biographical accounts of Elizabeth Gaskell's life have been compared and, where necessary, corrected, but Chapple's main emphasis lies with the wealth of new material that he has discovered. This ensures that The early years will provide a secure basis for future criticism of her creative works, which so often rely on biographical details