We’re delighted to announce the full schedule for our annual conference at the Celtic Royal Hotel, Caernarfon, North Wales. The conference is now fully booked, so if you don’t have a place, we’re sorry, but you’ve missed out!

Conference goers will receive a printed version of this programme when they register on arrival. 

**Please don’t forget to tell us your preferred activites for the Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  Let us know (or ask us any questions) by email to  **

We’re really looking forward to seeing you all – it’s going to be fun!

Friday 8th July

Participants arriving by coach:

10.00am – Coach picks up passengers in MANCHESTER

10.45am – Coach picks up passengers in MACCLESFIELD

11.30am – Coach picks up passengers in KNUTSFORD
12.30pm – Coach arrives CONWY
2.30pm   – Coach departs CONWY, visiting ABERGWYNGREGIN if time allows
3.30pm   –  Arrive CAERNARFON

All participants:

From 3.30pm – Conference Registration

From 4.00pm – Hotel check-in

5.30pm – Welcome and Introduction to the 2022 conference
Rhys Mwyn, archaeologist, musician and extra-mural lecturer, will give us the setting for Gaskell’s visits to Wales and her family connections to the area. 

7.30pm – Dinner 
After dinner, Jean Alston will tell us more about why we’ve chosen North Wales as our venue, and there will be readings from Elizabeth Gaskell’s letters and novels.

Saturday 9th July

8.00-9.00am – Breakfast 

9.30am – Dr Shirley Foster:“We are overrun. Women carry all before them…”: the Growth of Female Fiction in the Victorian Period 

In May 1850, George Henry Lewes wrote: “We are overrun. Women carry all before them….the group of female authors is becoming every year more multitudinous and more successful.” This paper will focus on Victorian women novelists, the contexts in which they wrote and the contribution they made to this rapidly expanding genre.

Dr Shirley Foster lectured in American Studies at the University of Hull. She lectured in English and American Literature at Sheffield, before retiring as Reader in 2012. She has written widely on Victorian fiction (especially Elizabeth Gaskell), 19th-century American literature, and travel writing, particularly by women. She is President of the Gaskell Society.

10.25am – Coffee 

10.45am – Dr Carolyn Lambert – Elizabeth Gaskell and Frances Trollope: Literary Echoes

These important and influential women both wrote controversial books that challenged ideas about class, gender and politics. For both, love, marriage and family relationships were at the heart of their lives and their writing. It could be said that they straddled the divide between Regency and Victorian England.

Dr Carolyn Lambert obtained her PhD from Sussex University in 2013. Her publications include The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Fiction (2013), For Better, For Worse: Marriage in Victorian Novels by Women (2018) co-edited with Marion Shaw, Frances Trollope (2020), and Elizabeth Gaskell’s Smaller Stories (2021). 

11.35am – Dr Diane Duffy: Lessons to be Learnt: Social Stereotyping and Female Autonomy in the Novels of Anne Marsh Caldwell and Elizabeth Gaskell

Anne Marsh Caldwell began writing in 1836. Gaskell read her work and they shared the same Unitarian beliefs concerning education and independent rational thought – key themes in the work of both women. Although Caldwell’s politics were more conservative than Gaskell’s, her work does present some interesting alternative roles for women. 

Dr Diane Duffy has a PhD in Early 19th Century Women’s Writing. She retired in 2013, volunteering at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, where she is now a Trustee, guide and researcher. She serves on the Gaskell Society Committee and runs our monthly discussion sessions. Her publications include Elizabeth Gaskell and the Industrial Poor and Christmas with the Gaskells, both co-written with Anthony Burton. 

12.30pm – Sandwich Lunch

1.30–5.30 Outing by coach to Beddgelert, where we walk by the river to the grave and view the effigy of Gelert in the ruined hunting lodge. The village has teashops and an ice cream parlour, and some interesting shops. Our return journey will follow part of the Gaskells’ honeymoon journey in 1832. 


2.00 A Study Session on ‘Lois the Witch’, led by Elizabeth Williams

7.00pm – Drinks Reception 

7.30pm – Conference Dinner
After dinner we present The Geraldine Jewsbury Show by Anthony Burton.

Sunday 10th July

8.00-9.00am – Breakfast 

9.30am – Dr Emma Liggins: Elizabeth Gaskell and the Female Gothic 

Female Gothic refers to a style of popular fiction in which women are depicted as both terrorised victims and courageous heroines. Gaskell seems to have been influenced by writers like Ann Radcliffe, particularly in short stories such as ‘The Grey Woman’, ‘The Poor Clare’ and ‘A Dark Night’s Work’.

Dr Emma Liggins is Reader in English Literature at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her publications include: Odd Women? Spinsters, Lesbians and Widows in British Women’s Fiction, 1850-1939 (2014) and The Haunted House in Women’s Ghost Stories, 1850-1945Gender, Space and Modernity (2020).

10.45am – Coffee

11.15am – Dr Michael Sanders: Giving “Help to the Mesters”: Frances Hodgson Burnett Rewrites Elizabeth Gaskell’s Industrial Fiction 

Frances Hodgson Burnett is best known today for her children’s fiction, but she first came to attention in the late 1870s with two novels set in industrial Lancashire. Burnett admired Gaskell, and this paper will explore the ways in which Burnett’s novels engaged with both Mary Barton and North and South.

Dr Mike Sanders is Senior Lecturer in 19th Century Writing at the University of Manchester. He is the author of The Poetry of Chartism (2009) and is working on Piston, Pen and Press, a project researching how industrial workers in Scotland and the North of England engaged with literary culture from the 1840s – 1910s.

12.15pm –  Finish

12.30pm – Sandwich Lunch

1.30–5.30pm – Outing to Plas Penrhyn.

Plas Penrhyn is the home of the Samuel Hollands, who were respectively uncle and cousin to Elizabeth Gaskell. She and William stayed at the house as part of their honeymoon tour. Porthmadog is where the Gaskell’s baby son died in 1845. Tremadog was part of the honeymoon journey in 1832 and Pen Morfa was the inspiration for Gaskell’s short story ‘The Well of Pen Morfa’. We will stop in Porthmadog for afternoon tea (included). 


2.00pm –  Study Session on Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Tales, led by Dr Diane Duffy.

Diane has provided some Points to Ponder for the session:

The Old Nurse’s Story (see also Diane’s blog post about the story)

A Dark Night’s Work (see also Diane’s blog post)

The Grey Woman (see also Diane’s blog post)

The session will include afternoon tea.

7.30pm – Dinner 
After dinner we will be treated to a Fun Literary Quiz!

Monday 11th July

8.00-9.00am – Breakfast 

10.15am – Coach departs for Beaumaris (arr. 11.30), where Elizabeth stayed with the Schwabe family. Plenty of places for lunch and refreshments.

1.00pm – Depart for home
Anticipated arrival in Knutsford 3.30pm, Macclesfield 4.15pm and Manchester 5.00pm.

Please note: this is our final, confirmed line-up, but as ever, speakers and timings can be subject to change due factors beyond our control.