We’re absolutely delighted that Dr Diane Duffy was elected as our new Chair at our Annual General Meeting in April. Read more about her and her plans for the Gaskell Society.
I am sure that, to many, I need no introduction, but for those who do not know me, I would like to introduce myself as the new Chair of the Gaskell Society.
In real terms I am a relatively new member. I joined the Society in 2015, not too long after I had become a volunteer at the newly opened Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester. I am now very privileged to be a Trustee of the House and I intend to build on the wonderful work that Libby Tempest (my predecessor and now Vice Chair) has done in bringing these two organisations closer together.
My background is in early nineteenth–century women’s writing, particularly their writing of history and I was awarded a PhD from the University of Manchester in 2011. Two year later, I retired from my teaching job and was looking for some outlet where I could use my research skills and pursue my interest in women’s writing. What better place that Elizabeth Gaskell’s House and a Society dedicated to promoting her work?
Once a member of the Society I was asked to take over the Knutsford study sessions, as Elizabeth Williams wanted to take a step back. This was a daunting experience at first, as Elizabeth was – and still is – a well-respected and much-loved member of the Society with a very specific method of delivering these sessions. However, the meetings are still popular and well attended despite lockdowns, which forced us to continue on Zoom. For our 2022-23 season, we will be studying Sylvia’s Lovers. Do feel free to join us – we still run multimedia sessions, so if you are not local, you can join us online from wherever you may be.
As an independent scholar, I have also given many talks both for the Society and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House, as well as doing interviews and outreach presentations. As the new Chair, I am very keen to encourage members to contribute information on Gaskell for our website and even short pieces for our Newsletter. There is so much knowledge out there which is in danger of being lost of it is not recorded. It is my wish to try and get Gaskell scholars and Gaskell Society members working together to promote Gaskell’s life and work. I love networking, and in that respect I do feel close to Elizabeth. I believe she would have loved email etc.
Finally, I would like to thank my brilliant committee members, especially Libby, Pam and Linsey, and look forward to taking the Society forwards through the 2020s.