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The Gaskell Society Conference 2017

Friday 21 July, 2017, 5:00 pm - Monday 24 July, 2017, 3:30 pm

Friday, 21 July

4.00 p.m. Registration
Delegates can arrive and occupy their rooms from 2pm.

5.30 p.m. Welcome and Introduction to the conference.
Andrew Negus: Portsmouth – Harlots, Dung, Glory and Mrs Gaskell.
Andrew Negus is a retired history teacher, now a Blue Badge Guide. His talk will cover the mediaeval origins of Portsmouth, its development by 1805, to becoming the home of the greatest dockyard in the world. He will then create a picture of life in Portsmouth when Mrs Gaskell paid her visit in 1863.

7.00 p.m. Dinner

8.30 p.m. Dr. Cheryl Butler: The Literary Landscape of Hampshire in the 19th Century
Cheryl Butler studied history at Winchester and Southampton universities and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Association and the Royal Society of Arts.
Mrs Gaskell’s literary works were rooted in northern landscapes, but for her home in retirement she chose rural Hampshire. This talk will look at other nineteenth century writers who found their inspiration, or their escape in the south.

Saturday, 22 July

6.45 – 9.30 a.m. Breakfast

9.30 a.m. Professor Angus Easson: “My dear Scheherazade” or “The Woes of Editor and Contributor”
Angus Easson is Professor Emeritus of English, at the University of Salford. Charles Dickens established his magazine, Household Words, in 1850. Attracted by Gaskell’s recent Mary Barton, he delighted in the very different world of Cranford and wanted more. This lecture will focus on the early rapport between Dickens as editor and Gaskell as story-teller, and the souring of the relationship during the fraught serialisation of North and South.

10.30 a.m.  Coffee

11.00 a.m. Professor Mary Hammond: ‘A “Southern capacity of hating and loving”: the regional reception of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton and North and South.’
Mary Hammond (a Northerner by birth, upbringing and inclination) is currently Professor of English and Book History at the University of Southampton. This talk explores the very different reception these two novels received in the north and the south of England, using previously neglected regional newspapers which not only reviewed, but also printed extracts of Gaskell’s novels, often using them to celebrate – or denigrate – northern identity.

11.50 a.m. Questions to the Speakers

12.30 p.m. Lunch

1.30 p.m. Outing to either Portsmouth or the New Forest
(see below)

2.00 p.m. A Study Session on North and South
Led by Elizabeth Williams, who so successfully led the study sessions at the Knutsford meetings.

7.00 p.m. Dinner
After dinner, we will once again enjoy an entertainment devised by and featuring Professor James Drife and Professor Walter Nimmo CBE.
James and Walter have appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe on numerous occasions and were such a success at our last conference at Whitby.

Sunday, 23 July

6.45 – 9.30 a.m. Breakfast

9.30 a.m. Dr Ben Moore: ‘Invisible Architecture’ in North and South
Ben Moore is Assistant Professor in English Literature at the University of Amsterdam. He completed his PhD on vision, city space and nineteenth-century literature, including Gaskell’s Manchester, at the University of Manchester in 2014. His talk will explore patterns of the seen and the unseen in urban and domestic space in North and South.

10.20 a.m. Coffee

10.50 a.m. Anna Burton: Remarks on Forest Scenery: North and South and the Picturesque
Anna Burton is in the third year of her PhD at the University of Liverpool. Her thesis focuses on ‘Ruins and Old Trees: William Gilpin, the Picturesque and the Long-Nineteenth-Century Novel’. Using William Gilpin’s eighteenth-century observations on picturesque landscapes as a starting point, this talk will explore Elizabeth Gaskell’s presentation of the New Forest in North and South.

11.40 a.m. Anthony Burton: Elizabeth Gaskell and London
Anthony Burton is a Trustee of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, and in working life was a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.  The North/South divide in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel is usually taken as the contrast between the industrial North and traditional rural life.  But London is south too.  This paper simply notices what London meant to Elizabeth Gaskell: a place to visit family and friends, the centre of English cultural life, and the milieu of the literary elite to which she gained entry

12.30 p.m. Lunch

1.30 p.m. Outing to either Portsmouth or the New Forest
(see below)

7 p.m. Conference Dinner

After dinner: North and South in a Nutshell, a short dramatised script devised by Helen Shay, a long-standing member of the Society and graduate in English Literature at the University of Manchester. It was originally performed at the University of York’s Festival of Ideas, as a base for audience reflection on Victorian attitudes versus those of today.

Monday, 24 July

Breakfast 6.45 – 9.30 a.m.

10.00 a.m. Departure for those travelling on the coach to the North West.
We will travel to Packwood House, a Tudor Manor House and garden, for lunch (at own expense) and tour of the house. NB This is a National Trust property so remember your membership cards if you are an N.T. member

2.30 p.m. Depart for North West



1. Portsmouth – Places of Interest

Led by Blue Badge Guide, Andrew Negus. He will take us to see the Dockyard- including HMS Victory and “Old Portsmouth”, and then we will visit the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum.

2. The New Forest

We will travel by way of Beaulieu and Lyndhurst, stopping to look at the pre-Raphaelite church and the grave of Alice Liddell (Alice in Wonderland). We continue on to the pretty little village of Minstead, which we think could be the place that Elizabeth Gaskell had in mind when writing about Helstone. Here we will have our traditional cream tea at the village store-cum-tea shop


Friday 21 July, 2017, 5:00 pm
Monday 24 July, 2017, 3:30 pm
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Best Western Royal Beach Hotel
St Helen's Parade
Portsmouth, PO4 0RN United Kingdom
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