In the latest issue:

Short Cuts: Wholesome Royal Gossip

Jonathan Parry

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick


Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Secret-KeepingRosemarie Bodenheimer

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
The Works of Elizabeth Gaskell 
edited by Joanne Shattock et al.
Pickering & Chatto, 4716 pp., £900, May 2006, 9781851967773
Show More
Show More

The new Pickering and Chatto edition of the complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell arrived just in time to mark a century since the publication of the previous standard text, A.W. Ward’s Knutsford Edition of 1906. In the meantime, Gaskell has been transformed from a charming woman who wrote wry nostalgic sketches to a major figure in Victorian studies.

Raymond Williams jump-started this re-evaluation in 1958, when he described her first novel, Mary Barton, as ‘the most moving response in literature to the industrial suffering of the 1840s’. Although Williams went on to complain about the book’s shift of focus from factory politics to romance, his work assured Gaskell’s place in critical discussions of industrialism, or at least the place of her two Manchester novels, Mary Barton and North and South. Others remained more attached to the Knutsford Gaskell who wrote Cranford, Wives and Daughters and Cousin Phillis. Those tenderly detailed studies of provincial life, they argued, contained Gaskell’s best and wittiest voice. There was puzzlement about the problematic outliers: Ruth, which took the side of a seduced girl and her illegitimate child, and Sylvia’s Lovers, a historical novel dealing with the press gangs of the Napoleonic Wars. No one paid much attention to Gaskell’s steady production of sketches, tales and novellas for such periodicals as Dickens’s weekly journals Household Words and All the Year Round, and later for the more prestigious Cornhill Magazine.

In the 1980s, these disparate pieces of work were gradually brought together in studies that blended feminist and cultural-historical approaches. There have been several new biographies since the 1990s, while The Letters of Mrs Gaskell (1966), edited by J.A.V. Chapple and Arthur Pollard, were reissued in 1997 and supplemented with Further Letters of Mrs Gaskell in 2000. Gaskell’s image, too, was transformed: the married woman whose earnings were pocketed by her husband, the Rev. William Gaskell, gave way to a canny, adaptable negotiator, keen to make money for the holidays she needed to restore her health after frenetic periods of writing, family life and social activity. The stories and novellas proved to be gold mines for biographical interpretation, since they tend to draw directly on Gaskell’s experiences, to play out her melodramatic fantasies, and to include material that would later be developed in the novels.

All of this scholarly and critical activity leaves its trace in the new edition. The first four volumes are devoted to Gaskell’s stories, journalism and novellas, each piece authoritatively introduced with information about its editorial history, sources and connections with other work. The six major works – the five novels and The Life of Charlotte Brontë, each with its own editor – are based on consistent source editions and are accompanied by notes on textual revisions; all have substantive introductions.

Gaskell has always been described as a storyteller; it was one of the things she called herself, and later commentators used the word to gesture towards differences between her writing and that of other Victorian novelists. She loved to collect and retell stories; gossip was as important to her as the collecting of odd tales from regional oral traditions. In her letters she repeatedly insists on being told every last detail of a reported event, and she was good at telling stories out loud. Her representations of the storytelling of relatively uneducated characters in Mary Barton and Sylvia’s Lovers are among her most vivid contributions to working-class portraiture; these humorous or touching tales are used to attest to the teller’s intelligence, imagination and ear for language.

The contemporaries whose work came closest to her own were Dickens, Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot, but Gaskell never practised the art of the novel as they did. Her details do not build up to form larger patterns of interpretation or metaphor; her voice generally lacks their double-edged ironies and strategic modulations. Although Gaskell tended to organise her novels by setting up two contrasting but connected households and pairing heroines, she did not employ the more intricate organisation of scene against narrative summary that ensures readers will keep reading. Gaskell wrote, as she lived, in a hurry and on the run. When she was at home she worked in the dining-room, where her four daughters, servants, relatives and friends came and went freely. Long passages of narrative summary sometimes take the energy out of her work, as if she had been distracted for a while; characters are occasionally put on hold for chapters. But when it came to beginning a book or producing its central confrontational scenes, Gaskell was concentrating: she knew when she had to gather her resources and write brilliantly.

Gaskell’s penchant for gathering stories underpinned her talent for describing local cultures; but it could also get her into trouble. It is delightful to be in the hands of a novelist who will tell you, as she does in Sylvia’s Lovers, what kinds of shoes and stockings young girls wore in the late 18th century, or that smugglers on the coast near Whitby were helped by farmers on the bluffs to haul up illegal goods hidden in buckets of seaweed. Gaskell’s elaboration of details about places and households can give a clearer window on ordinary life in the 19th century than novels that rope every detail into the service of a larger ironic or poetic vision. But she also had a way of believing – or at least of fully entering into – the stories her informants told her. She was immensely interested in the rumours that a Mr Liggins of Nuneaton had written Adam Bede, and later apologised to George Eliot for having been taken in by them. Her ability to internalise views of industrial relations expressed by both factory-workers and mill-owners created the impression that her own position was either tendentious or incoherent; in fact she was trying to get each side to listen to the stories of the other. When it came to writing biography, however, the public consequences of this receptiveness were greater.

Gaskell first met Charlotte Brontë in 1850, five years before Brontë died. The effect of Gaskell’s sympathetic presence might be measured by the fact that the thorny Brontë trusted her new friend, invited her once to Haworth, and told her a good deal about the sad family history. It may have been for these reasons that Patrick Brontë commissioned Gaskell to write his daughter’s biography, a task that could have been made to order for her. In the first volume she set her motherless heroine as a domestic, shy but compassionate feminine jewel set in a gothic Yorkshire. The blunt opinions and eccentric behaviour of northern folk account for Brontë’s harsh sense of realism but don’t damage her moral delicacy. Gaskell’s keen sense of place and the stories associated with it come into view in the wonderful description of the approach to Haworth that opens the biography, and return each time Brontë moves, to go to school or take up a position. In the second volume, Currer Bell the novelist is heavily represented through excerpts from her strong-voiced literary correspondence. Her biographer, clearly ambivalent about the radical expressiveness of her subject’s work, concentrates, as she so often did in fiction, on the sad succession of deaths in Brontë’s family.

Gaskell’s research for the biography involved her in a situation like the ones she invented in her novels: she became the carrier of someone else’s secret, and felt compelled to substitute other stories for the one she was concealing. The secret was Charlotte Brontë’s hopeless love for the married Belgian schoolmaster Constantin Héger, which Gaskell learned about when she interviewed Héger in Brussels and read Brontë’s letters to him. Any Victorian biographer would have hushed up a matter like that; it was understood to be part of the job. The only question was how it would be done. Gaskell filled some pages about Brontë in Brussels by printing (in French) several of the pieces of work Brontë wrote for Héger. Then she made a more dangerous, more novelistic move, substituting the story of Branwell Brontë’s involvement with his employer Mrs Robinson for Charlotte’s parallel obsession with M. Héger.

Although it wasn’t quite clear to what extent this relationship existed outside Branwell’s drug-ridden fantasy, Gaskell took local storytellers at their word and condemned Mrs Robinson for her scandalous seduction and ruin of a youthful dependent. This earned her the threat of a libel suit, from which she was saved by the timely action of her husband, who printed an apology and retraction in the Times while she was on her way home from a restorative holiday in Rome. The second edition was cancelled; Gaskell’s punishment was to rewrite substantial passages for the third, altering her treatment of the Branwell story, and responding also to numerous other outraged claims brought by people who had figured in the biography in ways they resented. Patrick Brontë, who appears in the first edition as the chair-burning, pistol-firing maniac Gaskell had heard about from an unreliable witness, was the only one to forgive her. (The Pickering and Chatto volume, edited by Linda Peterson, rightly gives us the offending first edition, along with translations of all those devoirs.)

Gaskell’s experience with The Life of Charlotte Brontë seems only to have strengthened her interest in using lies and cover-ups as central devices in fiction. Most Victorian novels are plotted around secrets; often the hidden facts are kept from the reader as well as from the characters. Gaskell’s use of secrets is quite different: she is interested in the lies or silences that protect another person from judgment or harm, and she is concerned with the effect of secret-keeping on the keeper. In Mary Barton (1848), the working-class heroine learns that her Chartist father has murdered her secret fantasy love, the factory-owner’s son; her mission is to protect her father while exonerating her actual lover, who is accused of the crime and brought to trial. Her performance as a witness is one of Gaskell’s compelling scenes, its tension based on an act of truth-telling that is also a desperate attempt at concealment. The stress causes Mary to collapse into a serious illness that purges her youthful restlessness and prepares her for marriage to the worthy working-class hero.

Variants of this sequence appear again and again in Gaskell’s novels. In Ruth (1853), a 16-year-old orphan apprentice is seduced, impregnated and abandoned by an upper-class sensualist. Rescued and taken in by the household of a Dissenting minister, she is represented to the community as a widow. The ramifications of this benevolent fiction create the turning points in the story of the book’s second heroine, Jemima Bradshaw, whose growing-up and readiness for marriage depend on the way she deals with Ruth’s secret when she learns it. In North and South (1855), the heroine lies to a police inspector in order to protect her brother, who has come back to England under threat of arrest; the lie, for which she can never quite forgive herself, becomes a key factor in overcoming her resistance to marriage. Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) is built around a more self-serving deception: Philip, in love with Sylvia, conceals from her that her accepted suitor, taken by a press gang, has promised to return to her. Wives and Daughters (1866) has two concealed relationships: a secret marriage and a case of romantic blackmail. Molly Gibson, who is privy to both, suffers the effects of concealment to the point of scandal and illness before she is allowed at last to move towards the worthy man who has shared in the consequences of both cover-ups. Further variants may be found among the novellas: in A Dark Night’s Work (1863), for example, the heroine witnesses her father’s impulsive murder and burial of a colleague, binding her to her father’s secret and destroying her romance.

Gaskell’s interest in lying and concealment has been linked to her Unitarian belief in the paramount importance of truth-telling, and its relation to her profession as a writer of fiction. There is an amusing passage in Ruth when the minister’s sister, Faith Benson, takes pleasure in elaborating on the lie about Ruth’s past. Gaskell makes up for her indulgence here in a brief sequence in which Ruth’s illegitimate child, Leonard, is found taking liberties with the truth; the household goes into serious reform mode, and Leonard is quickly cured. Gaskell certainly gestures towards the destructive consequences of lying, if only by showing the inward strain and physical suffering of characters burdened with secrets. It is also true, however, that her worthiest characters are generally those who carry secrets and tell lies, or at least don’t tell the whole truth. But secret-keeping is not only a moral problem in Gaskell’s fiction. Its role becomes clearer if we think about these deception plots in relation to Gaskell’s representations of family life.

Her central subject – the one that distinguishes her most clearly from other 19th-century novelists – is the relationship between parents and children. Romance plots in many novels turn on the question ‘Who is the right man for this woman?’ Gaskell’s chart a murkier territory in which parents cling protectively to their children and daughters struggle with the transition from parental connection to love and marriage. Mr Holman in Cousin Phillis keeps his sexually mature daughter in pinafores; Dr Gibson in Wives and Daughters is so panicked when his apprentice becomes infatuated with his daughter that he remarries, bringing unhappiness to himself and Molly. Mrs Thornton in North and South is aggressively jealous of her son’s love for Margaret Hale, while Margaret lovingly serves her father, and is deeply offended by any indication that she is considered as a romantic object. In Ruth, Jemima Bradshaw fights off her incipient love for her father’s business partner in order to resist feeling that she is being controlled by her overbearing father. In Sylvia’s Lovers, Sylvia falls in love with Charley Kinraid, a daring whaler who lives as her father fantasises he lived in his youth; meanwhile, her mother encourages Kinraid’s rival, Philip Hepburn, to give Sylvia the kind of near maternal protection she thinks Sylvia needs. Although the movement from ‘wild’ or wilful girlhood to self-disciplined care for others lies at the heart of all these stories, Gaskell finds it difficult to show the way her heroine makes the shift from daughter to lover and wife. Instead, she provides the daughter with a secret – her own or someone else’s – that effectively creates a barrier of knowledge between parent and child. Neither the heroines nor the readers of these books know exactly what is happening; the trials of secret-keeping stand in for the mysterious passage into adult sexual life.

Gaskell’s own mother died when she was 13 months old, leading her to imagine again and again in her work the conscious connection with a mother and the conscious loss of one, both things she had been too young to experience. Her father sent her as an infant to her Aunt Lumb’s household in Knutsford, where she was well brought up, surrounded by cousins. Nonetheless, her father’s apparent lack of interest in her, along with the painful visits she later paid to him and his second wife and family in London, left her with a sense of abandonment that was deepened by the disappearance of her only full brother on a journey to India. After her marriage she threw herself wholeheartedly into motherhood, only to be devastated by the death of her son, William, at ten months. That loss famously led to the writing of Mary Barton – which was followed by a spate of stories strewn with dead mothers and children.

The first volume of the Pickering and Chatto edition opens with an unpublished document that serves as a prelude to Gaskell’s writing life: the diary in which she recorded her feelings during her eldest daughter’s early years. ‘If I should not live to give it her myself,’ she writes, the diary ‘will I trust be reserved for her as a token of her mother’s love, and extreme anxiety in the formation of her little daughter’s character.’ The diary gives evidence of the latent conflicts in her ideals of parenthood, which mixed efforts at character formation – with an emphasis on emotional self-control – with a keen desire not to frustrate the child’s individual nature. Throughout her fiction, the combination of parental vigilance and imaginative love is the key to character; when it is absent, bad things follow. She is continually alert to the ways parents can fail, and to the almost invisible acts of forbearance, guidance or soothing that make up good mothering – whether it’s done by women or men.

Lovers, too, earn their stripes by acting like mothers. When the tough harpooner Kinraid finds Sylvia weeping and blushing, he ‘lulled and soothed her in his arms, as if she had been a weeping child and he her mother’. His rival, withholding knowledge of Kinraid’s pledge to return, ‘felt like a mother withholding something injurious from the foolish wish of her plaining child’. Roger Hamley in Wives and Daughters comes across the weeping Molly Gibson after she has learned of her father’s plan to remarry, and takes her despair seriously enough to calm her down; his maternal care guarantees his fitness as Molly’s mate. The best-known scene in North and South shows Margaret Hale flinging herself between the body of the master, John Thornton, and his striking workers, in an effort to defuse the threatening violence of the encounter. ‘What possessed me to defend that man as if he were a helpless child!’ she wonders later. The plot’s answer is that she will eventually come to love him; for Gaskell, all love is measured by the maternal instinct.

Maternity can be ideologically overcharged. In the climactic scene of Sylvia’s Lovers, Sylvia chooses her daughter over the husband she dislikes and the returned lover she has always yearned for; motherhood is a way of avoiding an impossible choice. Ruth’s joy in pregnancy and her faultless devotion to her son are seen as erasing the ‘sin’ of her youth. Gaskell uses apparently casual scenes of dialogue to capture the relationships and sensitivities of the members of her households. Sylvia is quick to sense when either of her parents has been made uncomfortable by a passing remark, and comes to their defence with a comment of her own. Molly Gibson’s badly mothered, refreshingly cynical stepsister, Cynthia, earns the reader’s affections by sarcastically deflecting her mother’s sneak attacks on Molly. The Oedipal connection between Molly and her father is nuanced by the mixture of understanding and obtuseness with which Gibson responds to his daughter’s flights of fantasy: he plays their pet word games without quite allowing himself to know the strength of his daughter’s feelings. No one is ever entirely understood; characters get credit only from the narrator for the kindness of their interventions or their silences.

In October 1856, Marian Evans, not yet George Eliot, wrote a piece in the Westminster Review called ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists’. She exempted three women from her criticism – ‘Harriet Martineau, Currer Bell and Mrs Gaskell’ – whose excellence results in their having ‘been treated as cavalierly as if they were men’. Today the exceptional trio would read ‘George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell’. The notion of genius clings to the first two names and not to the third, and Gaskell would have been quick to acknowledge this. It was part of her excellence, part of the appeal of her writing, that she never made more – or less – of herself than she deserved.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.