The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

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Unmarried Women: A Life of Freedom?

16 October, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm BST


Elizabeth Gaskell’s last novel, Wives and Daughters, explored the position of women in 19th century society and the pressure on them to marry. Her book had much to say about marriage, including storylines like Mrs Gibson’s marriage of necessity, Cynthia’s secret engagement and Molly’s hoped-for love-match. Now we compare fiction with reality in this special dual talk on Unmarried Women.

Firstly, popular speaker Elizabeth Williams explores the life and options for unmarried women in Wives and Daughters and other Elizabeth Gaskell novels. How did the writer view marriage? Did she suggest other options to her readers?

Secondly, writer Charlotte Furness introduces four historical women who each challenged and defied the societal expectations of their times by making the conscious decision not to marry a man. She brings to light the life and times of Anne Lister of Shibden Hall, Elizabeth Isham of Lamport Hall, Anne Robinson of Saltram and Rosalie Chichester of Arlington Court. To what extent could these real women live the life they wanted?

Join us for an evening looking at unmarried women in fact and fiction.

This event is hosted by our good friends at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

PS We know that Anne Lister was, now rather famously, actually married to another woman but we are looking at women who rejected social expectations of traditional marriage.