The Gaskell Society and its partners host a year-round programme of meetings and special events, most of which are open to everyone. We’re very friendly – and we’d love to meet you, whether or not you choose to join the Society. 

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July 2019

‘Household Commotion’: Elizabeth Gaskell and the ‘awful treasure’ of her servants, 1832-1865.

4 July
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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A new, interactive exhibition exploring in detail some of the individual servants that worked for the Gaskell family including Hearn, Elizabeth’s faithful housekeeper, and Will Preston, the outdoor servant from Cumbria, whose letter was found during the renovation work. A Letter to William In July 2016, while working on the Coach House at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, workmen discovered a letter wedged between the brickwork and roof trusses in what is now the Nightingale room. Although the pages were badly scorched,…

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Summer Evening Talk: Mary Barton’s Manchester

10 July, 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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£8

Join us for a summer evening talk on the 1840s Manchester of Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel, Mary Barton. Dr Diane Duffy will lead you on a literary journey of discovery of the places, buildings and landmarks of the city as featured in the book, with extracts from the text to map the way. This fascinating talk will interest anyone who wants to find out more about historical Manchester in Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing and is a perfect companion to Sherry Ashworth’s introductory…

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Victorian Book Group – Brideshead Revisited

18 July, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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July's meeting is all about Evelyn Waugh's classic novel. The Victorian book group continues its focus on reading (and rereading) classic works of fiction. Our scope spans the long nineteenth century and often includes neo-Victorian novels. We are especially interested in writings by and about women, and always feature one work by Elizabeth Gaskell. In 2019, we will explore the genre of the family saga and continue our investigation of how the British novel developed in conversation with other national…

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The Gaskell Society Conference 2019

19 July, 4:00 pm - 22 July, 10:00 am
Tankersley Manor Hotel, Church Lane, Tankersley,
Barnsley, S75 3DQ
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£330 – £380

Elizabeth Gaskell: Working-Class Politics and Culture at   The  Tankersley Manor Hotel which is situated between Sheffield and Barnsley. Set in modest grounds, with full leisure facilities, including a pool, it offers ample parking and easy access to the M1 motorway. As is usual, our Friday evening speakers will talk about the industrial and literary aspects of the area.  On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we have five speakers- Professor Francis O’Gorman: John Ruskin and the Working-Class Professor Robert Poole: Elizabeth Gaskell…

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Narratives of Ageing in the Nineteenth Century

23 July, 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
University of Lincoln, Alfred Tennyson Building, Brayford Pool
Lincoln, LN6 7TS United Kingdom
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Organisers: Dr Amy Culley, Dr Alice Crossley, Dr Rebecca Styler 9.00 Registration (open plan area outside lifts, floor 3: or turn right at the top of the stairs) 9.45 Welcome (ATB3116) 10.00 Panel session 1 (see below for details of panel papers - abstracts on conference website) 1A Writing and Im/maturity (ATB3101) 1B Ageing as Decline? (ATB3202) 11.20 Coffee break 11.40 Panel sessions: 2A Women Ageing with Authority(ATB3101) 2B Recovering the Ageing Body  (ATB3202) 1.00 Lunch (provided) 2.00 Panel sessions:…

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September 2019

Goodness, Truth and Beauty in the Works of John Ruskin and his Contemporaries

6 September, 9:45 am - 6:30 pm
Anglia Ruskin University, East Road
Cambridge, CB1 1PT United Kingdom
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In her review of Ruskin’s 'Modern Painters 3', George Eliot writes: ‘The truth of infinite value that he teaches is realism- the doctrine that all truth and beauty are to be attained by a humble and faithful study of nature, and not by substituting vague forms, bred by imagination on the mists of feeling, in a place of definite, substantial reality.’ Through the nineteenth-century, Ruskin, Eliot and a number of Victorian reformers sought to clarify the divine and human sources…

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Heritage Open Days and Annual Academy Service at Cairo Street Chapel

14 September, 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Cairo Street Chapel, 4 Cairo Street
Warrington, WA1 1ED United Kingdom
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Visit the historic chapel and gardens at Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel in Warrington for Heritage Open Weekend 2019. The Chapel has many monuments to past members of the chapel including many members of the Gaskell family. The Annual Academy Service will feature a talk by Ray Beecham, a member of the congregation, on the life of Samuel Gaskell (1807-1886) , Commissioner for Lunacy of England and Wales. Gaskell is a forgotten man of Warrington, who led the transformation of the treatment and…

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London & South East Gaskell Society Meeting

14 September, 12:45 pm - 4:30 pm
Francis Holland School, 39 Graham Terrace
London, SW1W 8JF United Kingdom
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£5

Out in Public with Gaskell's Women A talk by Dr Flore Janssen Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels form perfect illustrations of the mid-nineteenth-century debates around women in the public sphere. Crossing class boundaries and addressing the world of work, novels like Mary Barton, Ruth, and North and South show women whose work and personal commitments require them to assert their presence in the public sphere, both literally, walking alone in busy streets, and figuratively, in their engagement with matters of law and business. This talk addresses…

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Heritage Open Days and Annual Academy Service at Cairo Street Chapel

15 September, 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Cairo Street Chapel, 4 Cairo Street
Warrington, WA1 1ED United Kingdom
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Visit the historic chapel and gardens at Cairo Street Unitarian Chapel in Warrington for Heritage Open Weekend 2019. The Chapel has many monuments to past members of the chapel including many members of the Gaskell family. The Annual Academy Service will feature a talk by Ray Beecham, a member of the congregation, on the life of Samuel Gaskell (1807-1886) , Commissioner for Lunacy of England and Wales. Gaskell is a forgotten man of Warrington, who led the transformation of the treatment and…

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Victorian Book Group – Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Family

19 September, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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The September meeting is about Thomas Mann's 1901 novel which details the decline of a wealthy German merchant family over four generations. The Victorian book group continues its focus on reading (and rereading) classic works of fiction. Our scope spans the long nineteenth century and often includes neo-Victorian novels. We are especially interested in writings by and about women, and always feature one work by Elizabeth Gaskell. In 2019, we will explore the genre of the family saga and continue…

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Gaskell Memorial Service

22 September, 10:45 am - 12:00 pm
Brook Street Chapel, Adam's Hill
Knutsford, WA16 8DY
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Every year, on a Sunday close to what would have been Elizabeth Gaskell's birthday, we lay flowers on her grave and on the nearby grave of the Gaskell Society's founder, the much-missed Joan Leach. We then go into the chapel for a special service. You are most welcome to join us. 10.45 am  Laying flowers on the graves 11.00 am. Gaskell service

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The Old Nurse’s Story – discussion

22 September, 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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Join Diane Duffy for a discussion on The Old Nurse's Story. The story can be found in collections of Gothic stories, ghost stories and tales of the macabre, something which might seem odd for a woman who was the wife of a Unitarian minister and, as a Unitarian, a believer in the rational. So what exactly was Gaskell’s attitude to the supernatural – or at least superstition – and how might this attitude inform her so-called ghost stories? In fact,…

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Gaskell Society Autumn Meeting

28 September, 10:30 am - 3:30 pm
Knutsford Methodist Church, Princess Street
Knutsford, WA16 6BY United Kingdom
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The Joan Leach Memorial Lecture: 'Narrating Sexuality' by Carolyn Lambert Gaskell was intrigued by questions of gender & sexuality and explored these in her writing in surprising ways. This presentation focuses on Gaskell's presentations of masculinity in her shorter fiction but also her subversive challenges to cultural expectations of femininity. Carolyn Lambert is a visiting lecturer at the University of Brighton where she teaches nineteenth-century literature.  She is the author of The Meanings of Home in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Fiction (Brighton: Victorian Secrets, 2013)…

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Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birthday Talk: Elizabeth Gaskell and Gossip

29 September, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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We’re celebrating Elizabeth Gaskell’s birthday with a glass of wine and a good gossip! The Gaskell Society’s Elizabeth Williams will discuss Elizabeth Gaskell’s sharp eye and sharper tongue in this fascinating talk on Gaskell and gossip. Is gossip just malicious tittle-tattle, or could it be a compelling kind of story-telling? Find out more, as we delve into Elizabeth Gaskell’s writings to decide just what her gossip entails! Please join us for a complimentary glass of wine prior to the talk…

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October 2019

Manchester Meeting at Cross Street Chapel

1 October, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street
Manchester, M2 4WG United Kingdom
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£5 – £6

The Whitfield Collection, Knutsford Library A talk by Linda Clarke, Archivist at Cheshire Archives & Local Studies Knutsford Library holds a wonderful collection of Gaskell-related books, letters, cuttings, photographs, journals, foreign language editions, dramatisations, literary criticisms and background material, originally collected by Professor A Stanton Whitfield (1900-1975). Linda will talk about this publicly available collection and its relevance and interest to the Gaskell enthusiasts of today.       The talk will begin at 1:30pm, but doors open at 1.00pm,…

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Florence Nightingale – Behind the Legend

3 October, 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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£8.50 – £16.50

Discover the person behind the legend. Florence Nightingale was a gifted and complex woman who became a legend in her own lifetime. This illustrated talk will attempt to portray and explain her background, her motives and her struggle to lead an independent life, her rise to fame as “the lady with the lamp” and her success in public health reforms. Elizabeth Gaskell was a friend of Florence’s sister, Parthenope, who painted the picture of Florence that we have in the…

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October Pen Portrait

6 October, 3:00 pm - 3:15 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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Published writer and Gaskell House volunteer Philip Watts has created a collection of four monologues in the form of imaginary letters in which members of the Gaskell circle – Elizabeth, William, Margaret and Charlotte Brontë – discuss the artistic representations of themselves to be found in the house. Each lasts ten minutes and provides an entertaining way to learn more about the house and its occupants. One of the monologues will be performed every first Sunday of the month at…

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October Second-hand Book Sale

13 October, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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On the second Sunday of each month, Elizabeth Gaskell's House hosts a fantastic second-hand book sale, downstairs in the Servants Hall. All proceeds go towards supporting operations and events in the House. The tearoom always has a fine selection of new and second-hand books for sale, but this is the big one! It's a chance to browse a much wider selection – two rooms filled with second-hand books, donated by book-lovers! The selection includes a variety of fiction, art, gardening,…

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Victorian Book Group – The Age of Innocence

17 October, 1:00 pm - 2:15 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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October sees the turn of Edith Wharton's 1920 novel, set in New York's high society of the 1870s. The Victorian book group continues its focus on reading (and rereading) classic works of fiction. Our scope spans the long nineteenth century and often includes neo-Victorian novels. We are especially interested in writings by and about women, and always feature one work by Elizabeth Gaskell. In 2019, we will explore the genre of the family saga and continue our investigation of how…

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Knutsford Meeting – October 2019

30 October, 12:30 pm - 3:00 pm
Brook Street Chapel, Adam's Hill
Knutsford, WA16 8DY
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In October and November, we'll be discussing Cousin Phillis. Our monthly meetings are held on the last Wednesday of each month, between October and April (except December). An excellent buffet lunch is served at 12.30pm followed by a talk and discussion, led by Dr Diane Duffy, 2-3pm. Read Diane Duffy's blog post about the novella here. There will also be a chance to visit the Gaskell Exhibition Room, upstairs in the Chapel Hall building.   Everyone is most welcome. £10…

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Elizabeth Gaskell’s Gothic Tales

31 October, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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Get into the Halloween spirit and join us for a lunch-time talk on Elizabeth Gaskell’s gothic tales, with Gaskell Society committee member, Dr Diane Duffy. Mysterious vanishings, eerie old buildings, windswept moors and ghostly goings-on: Elizabeth Gaskell’s goosebump-inducing gothic stories are a far cry from the gritty Manchester novels with which she’s often associated. Come along at 1pm to find out more about these dark and decidedly spine-tingling tales.

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November 2019

Manchester Meeting at Cross Street Chapel

5 November, 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Cross Street Chapel, Cross Street
Manchester, M2 4WG United Kingdom
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£5 – £6

Elizabeth Gaskell’s French Connection A talk by John Greenwood, Editor of the Gaskell Newsletter John will talk about the important influences of all things French on Gaskell and her writing. His particular focus will be on the actual presence of the French language in Gaskell’s novels, short stories and articles.  The talk will begin at 1:30pm, but doors open at 1.00pm, so please feel free to bring a packed lunch and eat with us. The chapel provides tea and coffee for…

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London & South East Gaskell Society Meeting

9 November, 12:45 pm - 4:30 pm
Francis Holland School, 39 Graham Terrace
London, SW1W 8JF United Kingdom
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£5

Connectedness in Cranford A talk by Annick Pommier Elizabeth Gaskell led a highly connected life. She built a vast and varied social network over a relatively short period of time and the thousand or so letters that she wrote give us a glimpse of a woman for whom forging and maintaining connections was essential. Her need to connect was not confined to her personality and social life and extends to her works. In her presentation, Annick will explore some of the…

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November Second-hand Book Sale

10 November, 11:00 am - 4:00 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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On the second Sunday of each month, Elizabeth Gaskell's House hosts a fantastic second-hand book sale, downstairs in the Servants Hall. All proceeds go towards supporting operations and events in the House. The tearoom always has a fine selection of new and second-hand books for sale, but this is the big one! It's a chance to browse a much wider selection – two rooms filled with second-hand books, donated by book-lovers! The selection includes a variety of fiction, art, gardening,…

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Cloth and Class: Paisley Shawls in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Writing

14 November, 1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, 84 Plymouth Grove
Manchester, M13 9LW United Kingdom
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Paisley shawls are a recurring motif in Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing. What is their importance and meaning in her work? Join designer and textile lecturer Margo Singer to find out, in this fascinating talk.  Take the chance to see the display of original paisley wool scarves from the Elizabeth Gaskell Family Collection too.

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As you’ll appreciate, arrangements can change, so please be sure to check details before you leave home.