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Old 11-20-2014, 04:33 PM   #1
AlexBell
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Gaskell, Elizabeth: A Dark Night's Work. v1 21 Nov 2014

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.

There are several strands woven into this sombre novella including the pervasive class distinctions of the time, the dangers of indulging children, devoted servants, bereavements, and suffering due to being accessories after the fact of manslaughter. But there is a happy ending.

The source text was Project Gutenberg 2522-h.htm, checked against a pdf of the 1863 Smith, Elder and Co. edition from the Internet Archive. I have silently corrected typos, curled quotes, restored diacritics and italics, used ritish English, set off letters and documents as blockquotes, and made changes to spelling, punctuation, and hyphenation using oxforddictionaries.com.
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