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Old 01-17-2015, 11:51 PM   #1
AlexBell
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Gaskell, Elizabeth: Ruth. v1, 18 Jan 2015.

Elizabeth Gaskell was a Victorian writer, mother, wife of a Unitarian minister, colleague and rival of Charles Dickens, and social activist. She was born in London in 1810, the daughter of a Unitarian minister. Her mother died soon after the birth, and she was raised by an aunt in Knutsford. Her happy memories of Knutsford inspired Cranford, her best known work. In 1832 she married William Gaskell, and they settled in the industrial city of Manchester where she lived until shortly before her death in 1865, busy in motherhood and being a minister's wife. The death of her only son in infancy strengthened her sense of identity with the poor and her desire to relieve their suffering, and her husband encouraged her to write. Her most prominent traits were compassion and tolerance.

Ruth was published in 1853, at a time when Mrs Gaskell had gained notoriety for Mary Barton and fame for Cranford, and when 'fallen women' and their offspring were despised and persecuted. Ruth was an only child, orphaned and seduced at age fifteen, deserted and pregnant at sixteen, sheltered by a Dissident minister and his sister, and eventually 'a mother to be proud of' Mrs Gaskell was bitterly criticised for the novel, even by members of her husband's congregation.

The source text was 4275-h.htm from Project Gutenberg, checked against a pdf of the 1853 Chapman and Hall edition from the Internet Archive. I have silently corrected typos, curled quotes, restored diacritics and italics, added scene breaks, and made changes to spelling, punctuation and hyphenation using oxford*dictionaries.com.
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