The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

Elizabeth Gaskell Timeline

"To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood..."

– Wives and Daughters (1866) –

1810Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson is born in Chelsea on September 29. Her parents are William Stevenson and his wife Elizabeth Stevenson (née) Holland.
1811Elizabeth’s mother dies, and she is taken to live with her mother’s sister, Aunt Hannah Lumb in Knutsford, Cheshire. Her home, Heathwaite House, is pictured above.
1825-7Attends school at ‘Avonbank’, Stratford-upon-Avon.
1828-9Disappearance of her brother John at sea; Elizabeth goes to live with her sick father and her stepmother in Chelsea, London.
1829Elizabeth’s father dies on March 22.
1832Marries Rev. William Gaskell at St John’s Parish Church, Knutsford. The couple move to Manchester, where he is Assistant Minister at Cross Street Chapel. They begin married life living at 14 Dover Street in the Ardwick district.
1833A daughter is stillborn.
1834Birth of a daughter, Marianne.
1837Poem, Sketches Among the Poor by Mr and Mrs Gaskell appears in Blackwood’s Magazine in January.
1837Birth of a daughter, Margaret Emily (known as Meta).
c1838-41Birth and death of a son.
1840Elizabeth’s account of Clopton Hall published in William Howitt’s Visits to Remarkable Places. She sent him the description when she heard that he was planning a book on historic houses.
1842Birth of a daughter, Florence Elizabeth. The Gaskells move to 121 Upper Rumford Street in Manchester.
1844A son, William, is born on 23 October.
1845Baby William dies of scarlet fever while the family holidays in Portmadoc, North Wales.
1845-48Elizabeth collapses after the loss of her son. Searching desperately for something to distract her from her grief, William encourages her to write a novel – which became Mary Barton.
1846Birth of a daughter, Julia Bradford.
1847Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras published in Howitt’s Journal.
1848Elizabeth’s first novel, Mary Barton, is published by Chapman & Hall. Christmas Storms and Sunshine appears in Howitt’s Journal.
1849Meets Dickens and other literary figures on a visit to London.
Hand and Heart appears in the Sunday School Penny MagazineThe Last Generation in England appears in Sartain’s Union Magazine, USA.
1850The Gaskells move to their final family home in Manchester, 42 (now 84) Plymouth Grove. The Moorland Cottage is published.
Invited by Dickens to contribute to Household Words, in which appears Lizzie LeighThe Well of Pen Morfa and The Heart of John Middleton. Elizabeth Gaskell meets Charlotte Brontë for the first time.
1851First episode of Cranford appears in Household WordsMr Harrison’s Confessions is published in The Ladies’ Companion. Charlotte Brontë visits the Gaskells in Manchester.
1852The Schah’s English Gardener and The Old Nurse’s Story appear in Household Words and Bessy’s Trouble at Home in the Sunday School Penny Magazine.
1853Cranford and Ruth published.
Cumberland Sheep-ShearersTraits and Stories of The HugenotsMorton HallMy French Master and The Squire’s Story, all appear in Household Words. Visits Charlotte Brontë at Haworth. Visits Madame Mohl in Paris.
1854The serialisation of North and South begins in Household Words, where Modern Greek Songs and Company Manners are also published. William Gaskell becomes Minister of Cross Street Chapel.
1855North and South and Lizzie Leigh and Other Stories published. An Accursed Race and Half a Lifetime Ago appear in Household Words. Charlotte Brontë dies on 31 March. The Revd Patrick Brontë asks Elizabeth to write her biography.
 1856The Poor Clare appears in Household Words.
1857The Life of Charlotte Brontë is published. It is quickly followed by a second and then third edition ‘revised and corrected.’
1858My Lady LudlowRight at Last, and The Manchester Marriage appear in Household Words, and The Doom of The Griffiths in Harper’s Magazine.
1859Round the Sofa and Other Tales published. Lois the Witch and The Crooked Branch appear in Dickens’ new magazine All The Year Round.
 1860Right at Last and Other Tales, published. Curious, if True, appears in the Cornhill Magazine.
1861The Grey Woman appears in All The Year Round.
1862Overstrains herself organising relief for Manchester’s destitute during the cotton famine.
1863Sylvia’s Lovers published. A Dark Night’s Work, An Italian InstitutionThe Cage at Cranford and Crowley Castle, appear in All the Year Round, and Cousin Phillis in the Cornhill Magazine.
1864French Life, published in Fraser’s Magazine.
Wives and Daughters begins serialisation in the Cornhill Magazine.
1865Cousin Phillis and Other Tales and The Grey Woman and Other Tales published.Elizabeth secretly buys a house, The Lawn, in Holybourne, Hampshire. While staying there, she dies suddenly on November 12. On November 16 she is taken north to Knutsford, Cheshire, and is laid to rest in the churchyard of Brook Street Unitarian Chapel, Knutsford.
1866The unfinished Wives and Daughters is published posthumously with a note written by Frederick Greenwood, the editor of the Cornhill Magazine, in which he writes of how he thinks Mrs Gaskell had intended to end her novel. In the final paragraph of his note, he pays personal homage to Elizabeth Gaskell saying, ‘It is unnecessary to demonstrate to those who know what is and what is not true literature that Mrs Gaskell was gifted with some of the choicest faculties bestowed upon mankind; that these grew into greater strength and ripened into greater beauty in the decline of her days; and that she has gifted us with some, the truest, purest works of fiction in the language. And she was herself what her works show her to have been- a wise good woman.’
1884Reverend William Gaskell dies on 11 June, aged 78. He is buried beside his wife at Brook Street Unitarian Chapel in Knutsford.