|My collection of Gaskell non-fiction so far|
One of the books is about the Cheshire town of Knutsford, where she grew up. It's written by a local who was recognized for both her historical knowledge of it and Gaskell: Joan Leach, who passed away the day after Gaskell's bicentenary celebrations in 2010. It's filled with old photographs and some engravings.
Jenny Uglow's biography A Habit of Stories is another. I'd referenced it a great deal before but never read it through. Haven't reached too far into it-- about a quarter of the way, but I'm enjoying the details of her family and those around her. It's also lovely to see a color version of the miniature of Gaskell's Aunt Hannah Lumb, who raised her.
My favorite of the pile is The Letters of Mrs. Gaskell. It was an exciting find, published in the1960s (although there is a more recent edition) it contains a collection of her letters to friends and her daughter Marianne.What can be more charming than reading her own words and special turns of phrases? The anecdotes of her experiences and personalities of those around her. As I read them I feel she's becoming a friend. Although it's a larger volume it's only a handful in comparison to the thousands she must have written during her lifetime. It's believed her other daughter Meta may have burnt many in a bonfire ...remind anyone else of Cassandra Austen? Others were destroyed during the World Wars. Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell leaves some hope though, with some more which have been uncovered.
This afternoon when I checked my mail box I found Yvonne Ffrench's biography waiting. I'd previously read it at the Seattle library a few years back and am glad to have my own copy. From what I remember it's short and slightly critical of her writing, contrasting her with George Eliot. Barbara Brill's At Home with Elizabeth Gaskell and Winifred Gerin's biography are also on their way. I've seen the latter mentioned as one of the best out there so I'm curious to read it!