Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell née Stevenson (1810-1865), often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature. She married William Gaskell, the minister at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester. They settled in Manchester, where the industrial surroundings would offer inspiration for her novels. Her first novel, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life, was published anonymously in 1848. The best known of her remaining novels are Cranford (1853), North and South (1855), and Wives and Daughters (1866). She became popular for her writing, especially her ghost story writing, aided by her friend Charles Dickens, who published her work in his magazine Household Words. Her other works include: The Grey Woman (1865), Lois the Witch (1861) and The Old Nurse's Story (1852).
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