Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian novelist, who wrote a biography of her friend Charlotte BrontŽ and many short stories.
She was born in London in 1810, one of two children who survived out of eight. The other was her brother John who disappeared while working with the East India Company. After her motherís death when she was four she was raised by an aunt in Knutsford, and her happy memories of Knutsford inspired Cranford.
In 1832 she married William Gaskell, a Unitarian minister, and shared his passion for social justice. They settled in Manchester in an area notorious for its poverty and appalling living conditions, where she lived for the rest of her life. The death of her only son in infancy intensified both her sense of identity with the poor and her desire to express their hardship, and her husband encouraged her to write.
is set in a small rural town, inhabited largely by women and running on cooperation and gossip. But domestic peace is constantly threatened by financial disaster, imagined burglaries, tragic accidents, and the return of long-lost relatives. The book has little in the way of plot and is a series of episodes in the lives of Mary Smith and her spinster sister friends, Miss Matty and Miss Deborah.
The book was serialized from 1851 to 1853 in Charles Dicken's magazine Household Words
, and went through many editions on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of them were illustrated, but not this one.
The ebook is not a facsimile of any edition. I have removed Roman numerals, made the punctuation more consistent, and added some scenebreaks. As always please let me know of any errors so I can correct them.
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