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Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South: regional prejudice in the mid-Victorian novel

Hammond, Mary

Authors

Mary Hammond

Abstract

Gaskell's 1855 novel North and South represents an important departure from her earlier works, which presented mid-century Northern industrial cities as grim centres of poverty, suffering, class prejudice and vice. In North and South, Gaskell's view of the industrial North softens considerably, and her rosy depictions of Southern pastoral life likewise undergo an important sea-change and begin to acknowledge the reality of rural poverty and unemployment. Gaskell is not, as we shall see, an isolated example. This session examines the ways in which novels by a range of authors including Gaskell and Dickens, and the mid-century newspapers which reviewed them, may be seen to reflect changing urban/rural and North/South relations during a decade in which town-dwellers outnumbered country dwellers for the first time, and old prejudices began to break down. Mary Hammond is Associate Professor of English at the University of Southampton, specialising in nineteenth-century literature and book history. She is the author of Reading, Publishing and the Formation Literary taste in England, 1880-1914 (Ashgate, 2006) and Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations A Cultural Life, 1860-2012 (Ashgate, 2015) and co-editor of Publishing in the First World War: Essays in Book History Palgrave, 2007) and Books Without Borders, Vols. 1 and 2 (Palgrave, 2008).

Digital Artefact Type Audio
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords North and South, Culture Café, Elizabeth Gaskell, Victorian novel

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