AdvertisementJoin Ed Glinert, a Penguin Classics editor, and Manchester's most prolific tour guide & historian, on a tour of Elizabeth Gaskell's city.
This is the only Elizabeth Gaskell walking tour in Manchester which peruses the author's Manchester haunts in great detail AND features antique artefacts from the Portico Library’s collection AND takes you to the author's Chorton-on-Medlock house AND to her earlier residency on Dover Street, with its own remarkable history.
That’s because this tour is led by Ed Glinert, the only official Manchester tour guide who is also an author, published by Penguin, Bloomsbury, Random House and HarperCollins.
How the tour works:
* We mosey round town looking at places associated with the Gaskells.* We visit the elegant Portico Library where William Gaskell was chairman for 35 years but where Elizabeth Gaskell was not allowed to borrow books. Why? ah...* We ride on a public omnibus to Dover Street, where the couple lived, a street with a remarkable (but little-known) history.* We fetch up at the Elizabeth Gaskell House. There is a cover charge to enter but it lasts a year.* You go home and read Mary Barton.
The story so far:
Elizabeth Gaskell was born Elizabeth Stevenson in Chelsea and raised in Knutsford. She worked in Manchester, combatting poverty and ignorance, spreading the word about non-conformist Christianity and devising fiendish literary plots.
Gaskell wrote about love: “He could not forget the touch of her arms around his neck, impatiently felt as it had been at the time; but now the recollection of her clinging defence of him, seemed to thrill him through and through—to melt away every resolution, all power of self-control, as if it were wax before a fire.”
She wrote about Manchester cotton: “As they drove through the larger and wider streets, from the station to the hotel, they had to stop constantly; great loaded lorries blocked up the not over-wide thoroughfares… Every van, every wagon and truck, bore cotton, either in the raw shape in bags, or the woven shape in bales of calico.”
She also wrote about smoke and Manchester: “They had taken Franky there to show him Manchester, far away in the blue plain against which the woodland foreground cut with a soft clear line. Far, far away in the distance on that flat plain, you might see the motionless cloud of smoke hanging over a great town, and that was Manchester − ugly, smoky Manchester, dear, busy, earnest, noble-working Manchester; where their children had been born, and where, perhaps, some lay buried; where their homes were, and where God had cast their lives; and told them to work out their destiny.”
Elizabeth Gaskell made her name with the novel Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life even though it was published anonymously in 1848. It covered topics that shocked the shock city – Chartism, murder, hypocrisy, corruption. Cranford (1853) and North & South (1855) cemented her reputation.
Mrs Gaskell was exasperated by the city: “How deep might be the romance in the lives of some of those who elbowed me daily in the busy streets of the town in which I resided,” she sighed. “I had always felt a deep sympathy with the careworn men, who looked as if doomed to struggle through their lives in strange alternations between work and want.”
But this was where she became a revered literary figure − more than just the wife of the minister at the Unitarian chapel; a scion of Dickens, a chronicler supreme.
Event Venue & Nearby Stays
St Ann Street,Manchester,M2 7LF,GB, United Kingdom