The Gaskell Society

The Gaskell Society

Celebrating the life and work of Elizabeth Gaskell

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Wives and Daughters V Mansfield Park – The Domestic Novel

18 September, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm BST


Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell are two of the nation’s best-loved authors. Rightly lauded for their classic works, they are often depicted as writing about marriage and the narrow social confines of women’s lives. Now, we look at them afresh as we explore the ‘domestic novel’ of the 19th century. Many Georgian and Victorian stories focused on the life of girls from the gentry, or middle-classes, and the minutiae of their daily lives.

Austen’s classic novel Mansfield Park tells the story of Fanny Price who lives on the edge of family life with her richer relatives, trying to navigate love and loneliness. Elizabeth Gaskell’s last novel Wives and Daughtersshows the coming of age of heroine Molly Gibson in a small English country town.

Both girls are central characters, observant of the people around them and recognised by others for their goodness. But reading between the lines, what hints does each author give us about domestic life? What do they have to say about women’s lives? And do they support or challenge the status quo?

This event is hosted by our good friends at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House  in partnership with Jane Austen’s House. Part of Wives and Daughters season and to celebrate the 210th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park.