Cranford is the best-known and best-loved novel of the nineteenth-century English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. It was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words, which was edited by Charles Dickens. It is a gently comic picture of life and manners in an English country village during the 1830s. It describes the small adventures in the lives of two middle-aged sisters in reduced circumstances, Matilda and Deborah Jenkyns, who do their best to maintain their standards of propriety, decency, and kindness. At the center of the novel is Miss Matty, whose warm heart and tender ways compel affection and regard from everyone around her. Also revealed are the foibles and attributes of the pompous Mrs. Jamieson and her awesome butler, the genial Captain Brown, the loyal housemaid Martha, and others. Using an intimate, gossipy voice that never turns sentimental, Gaskell skillfully conveys the old-fashioned habits, subtle class distinctions, and genteel poverty of the townspeople.
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Originally published as a magazine serial and then printed in novel form in 1853, Cranford is a playful tour of a peculiar country town. From the stately, stern Miss Jenkyns to the timid Miss Betsy Barker and her flannel-wearing cow, the inhabitants are all acquainted, and all poised to overhear scandal.From the Back Cover:
Elizabeth Gaskell’s episodic second novel, sometimes dismissed as nostalgically “charming,” is now considered by many critics to be her most sophisticated work. The country town of Cranford is home to a group of women, affectionately called “Amazons” by the narrator, whose seemingly uneventful lives are full of conflicts, failures, and unexpected connections. A rich commentary on Victorian culture by one of its most astute observers, Cranford owes its enduring popularity to the complex pleasures it offers the reader.
This Broadview Edition provides an assortment of historical materials to put the novel in context, including Gaskell’s letters from the period of the novel’s writing, excerpts from texts read by the characters, illustrations from the novel and from contemporary periodicals, and other Victorian writings on industrialization, etiquette, and domestic life.
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