Mary Barton season at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House online

Part of our Literature guide

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Elizabeth Gaskell's House
Elizabeth Gaskell's House

Mary Barton Season, online, Until 13 December 2023, from £5.00 - Book now

The team at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House on Plymouth Grove has already celebrated the author’s famous novels Cranford and North And South, and in 2023 it’s the turn of Mary Barton: A Tale Of Manchester Life. The special season of events and online talks will feature various experts exploring the story, characters and industrial background of Chorlton-on-Medlock’s most famous writer Elizabeth Gaskell’s first novel.

Gaskell’s novel powerfully dramatises the historical reality of Victorian life.

Written in 1848, the novel is a tale of class strife, romantic love and action adventure, and follows the eponymous heroine Mary Barton, daughter of a trade unionist, as she finds herself torn between the working-class Jem Wilson and a mill owner’s son, Henry Carson. Mary’s dilemma, in the wake of tragic shooting, foresees the class struggle and romantic plot of later works such as North And South, and Gaskell’s novel powerfully dramatises the historical reality of Victorian life. In the opening event on 18 January, the speaker Elizabeth Williams will provide an introductory look at Mary Barton: A Tale Of Manchester Life, giving audiences the chance to find out more about the context in which the book was written, including industrial Manchester and Elizabeth Gaskell’s personal life.

The following week, on 25 January, Dr Diane Duffy is back by popular demand, exploring ‘Mary Barton’s Manchester’,  leading participants on a virtual literary journey of discovery to the places, buildings and landmarks of the city as featured in the novel, with extracts from the text to map the way. Says the blurb: ‘This fascinating talk will interest anyone who wants to find out more about historical reality in Elizabeth Gaskell’s writing.’

The Mary Barton Season continues on 15 February, with a nod to Valentine’s Day by comparing Elizabeth Gaskell’s heart-throbs to Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy, then March and April’s events focus on the role of women as both author and heroine. More on those soon – watch this space – and don’t forget to check out the monthly secondhand book sale in the house itself.

The online events take place 7-8pm, with talks approximately 45 minutes, followed by a short question and answer session. All online and £5 per person unless otherwise stated.

Mary Barton Season, online

Until 13 December 2023
From £5.00

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