Preview of Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classics) New Edition

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World's Classics) 2011We have several of Oxford World’s Classics editions in our library and are quite partial to their expanded editions. From Austen to Radcliffe to Burney to Gaskell, whatever they take on, their introductions and supplemental material are excellent.

The news of this new revised paperback edition of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford is quite exciting. Due out on June 9, 2011 in the UK and August 15, 2011 in the US from Oxford University Press, it will include a new introduction, notes and additional supplemental material. We are quite certain that our friend Katherine at Gaskell Blog will also be anxious to get her mits on it too. Here is a description from the publisher:

BOOK DESCRIPTION

A vivid and affectionate portrait of a provincial town in early Victorian England, Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford describes a community dominated by its independent and refined women. This edition includes two related short pieces by Gaskell, “The Last Generation in England” and “The Cage at Cranford.” Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be. The book includes an up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.

FEATURES

  • A new edition of a much-loved classic, Elizabeth Gaskell’s comic portrayal of a Victorian small town dominated by women.
  • Dinah Birch’s introduction reflects recent revaluations of Gaskell’s work, focusing on Gaskell’s response to social change as it transformed the lives of provincial women, and the growing recognition that Cranford is much more than the gently charming comedy that is was once taken to be.
  • Includes two related short stories, ‘The Cage at Cranford’ and ‘The Last Generation in England’.
  • An appendix includes a selection of extracts from Dickens, Dinah Craik, Wilkie Collins, Ruskin and other contemporary novelists and social commentators on the coming of the railway, banking failures, household management, fashion, Oriental entertainers and the novel’s first reviewers to illustrate the diverse contexts in which Cranford took its place.
  • Up-to-date bibliography and expanded notes.
  • Introduction by Dinah Birch.
  • Up–to-date bibliography.
  • Revised chronology.
  • Explanatory Notes by Dinah Birch.
  • Appendix of contemporary responses to the novel and contemporary comment on household management, costume, financial and commercial controversies relevant to the text.
  • Reset Gaskell text.

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Elizabeth Porges Watson is Lecturer in English at the University of Nottingham. Dinah Birch is Professor of English Literature at the University of Liverpool.

Many of you may be familiar with the story of Cranford from the two BBC/PBS mini-series starring Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins and an incredible British cast. It was a delightful adaptation of Gaskell’s short stories and we encourage you to read our reviews and seek out this new edition of the novel when it is released in August. Mrs. Gaskell’s characterizations are humorous, charming and poignant, and we are very pleased to see her being given this new edition which appears to be quite thorough in scholarly research and engaging detail.

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell (Oxford World’s Classic)
Oxford University Press (June 9, 2011 in UK) (Aug 15, 2011 in US)
Trade paperback (256) pages
ISBN:  978-019955830

Cover image courtesy of Oxford University Press © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, Austenprose.com

Elizabeth Gaskell Bicentenary Blog Tour Slated for September 29th

Mark your calendars for September 29th and return for a blog tour by thirteen Elizabeth Gaskell enthusiasts in celebration of the 200th anniversary of her birth in 1810.

In addition to a biography of her life, her novels, short stories and movies will be reviewed, reading resources detailed, and a photographic tour of her home at Plymouth Grove in Manchester will be featured.  One lucky commenter will win a copy of an unabridged edition of North and South by Naxos AudioBooks read by Clare Willie. That’s 18 hours of Margaret Hale and John Thornton sparring and sparking in Gaskell’s most acclaimed work.  Here is a list of participants. You can visit them in any order and all comments during the contest will count toward your chance to win. Good luck and happy birthday Mrs. Gaskell.

Biography

  • 1.) Elizabeth Gaskell’s life and times: Vic – Jane Austen’s World

Novels/Biography

  • 2.) Mary Barton (1848) Book: Kelly – Jane Austen Sequel Examiner
  • 3.) Cranford (2007) Movie: Laura – The Calico Critic
  • 4.) Ruth (1853) Book: Joanna – Regency Romantic
  • 5.) North and South (1854–5) Book: Laurel Ann – Austenprose
  • 6.) North and South (2004) Movie: Maria – Fly High
  • 7.) Sylvia’s Lovers (1863) Book: Courtney – Stiletto Storytime
  • 8.) Wives and Daughters (1865) Book: Katherine – November’s Autumn
  • 9.) Wives and Daughters (1999) Movie: Elaine – Random Jottings
  • 10.) The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857) Book & (1973) Movie, The Brontes of Haworth: JaneGS – Reading, Writing, Working, Playing

 

Novellas

  • 11. Mr. Harrison’s Confessions (1851) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader
  • 12. My Lady Ludlow (1859) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader
  • 13. Cousin Phillis (1864) Book: Alexandra – The Sleepless Reader

Resources

  • 14.) Your Gaskell Library – Links to MP3′s, ebooks, audio books, other downloads and reading resources available online: Janite Deb – Jane Austen in Vermont
  • 15) Plymouth Grove – A Visit to Elizabeth Gaskell’s home in Manchester: Tony Grant – London Calling

Sometimes one likes foolish people for their folly, better than wise people for their wisdom.” Elizabeth Gaskell, Wives and Daughters

Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birth with a Blog Tour on September 29th, 2010

“He shrank from hearing Margaret’s very name mentioned; he, while he blamed her–while he was jealous of her–while he renounced her–he loved her sorely, in spite of himself.” Elizabeth Gaskell, North and South

2010 marks the bicentenary of mid-Victorian novelist and short story writer Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth on September 29th, 1810 near London. Best known for her detailed and sensitive portrayals of English social strata, her novels are cherished by literature lovers and social historians for their honest depiction of the life of rich and poor from the first half of the nineteenth century. Five of her books have also been brought vividly to the screen in television mini-series adaptations: The Brontes of Haworth (1973), North and South (1975 & 2004), Wives and Daughters (1999), Cranford (2007) and Return to Cranford (2009). Continue reading “Celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Birth with a Blog Tour on September 29th, 2010”

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell: A Naxos Audiobooks Review & Giveaway

To prime myself for Return to Cranford, the new Masterpiece Classic sequel to last year’s award-winning mini-series Cranford on PBS, I wanted to read Mrs. Gaskell’s original novel that it was adapted from. Since I am always short of reading time, I chose instead to listen to an audio recording, my favorite pastime during my commute to work. After a bit of research on Cranford audio book recordings, I settled on the Naxos edition. From my experience with their recording of Jane Austen’s novels I knew the quality would be superior. I was not disappointed.

A witty and poignant portrait of small town life in an early Victorian-era English village, Cranford was first published in 1851 as a serial in the magazine Household Words edited by Charles Dickens. Inspired by author Elizabeth Gaskell’s (1810-1865) early life in Knutsford in Cheshire where she was raised by an aunt after her mother’s death and father’s subsequent re-marriage, the novel revolves around the narrator Miss Mary Smith and the Amazons of the community: the authoritative Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her kindhearted but timid younger sister Matty, the always well informed Miss Miss Pole and the self-important aristocratic Mrs. Jamieson. This gentle satire of village life does not supply much of a plot – but amazingly it does not matter. Gaskell has the incredible talent of making everyday occurrences and life events totally engrossing. Miss Matty’s conservative friends, the middle-aged spinsters and widows of Cranford, do not want their quaint life and traditions altered one bit. They like Cranford just as it has always been, therefore when the industrial revolution that swept through England in the 1840’s encroaches upon their Shangri-La, they lament and bustle about attempting to do everything in there power to stop the evil railroad’s arrival. Gaskell is a deft tactician at dry humor, not unlike her predecessor Jane Austen, and the comedy in Cranford balanced with a bit of tragedy is its most endearing quality.

This unabridged audio book recording is aptly read by Claire Willie whose sensitive and lyrical interpretation of Gaskell’s narrative enhanced my enjoyment of the story by two fold. Her rendering of the different characters with change of timbre and intonation was charmingly effective. My favorite character was of course the kindhearted Miss Matty. Even though she is of a certain age she has a child-like naïveté refreshingly seeing her friends and her world in simple terms. In opposition to our present day lives of cell-phones, blackberries and information overload, a trip to Cranford was a welcome respite. I recommend it highly.

2010 marks the 200th anniversary of author Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell nee Stevenson’s birth on 29 September 1810 in Chelsea, which was then on the outskirts of London. In celebration of her bi-centenary, Naxos Audiobooks will be releasing three additional recordings of her novels: North and South in February again read by Claire Willis, Wives and Daughters in March read by Patience Tomlinson and Cousin Phillis in May read by Joe Marsh. Happily, I will be enjoying many hours of great Gaskell listening this year.

5 out of 5 Stars

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell
Read by Claire Willie
Naxos Audiobooks, USA
Unabridged, 6 CDs, running time: 7h 02m
ISBN: 978–9626348505

Giveaway

Enter a chance to win a copy of the Naxos Audiobooks recording of Cranford by leaving a comment by 11:59 pm PT on Sunday, January 24th, 2010 stating which character in Return to Cranford on Masterpiece Classic was your favorite, or which other Victorian era author you have read and would like to see an audio book recording made of. Winner will be announced on Monday January 25th, 2010. Shipping to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

UPDATE 01/25/10: The contest has concluded. The winner was announced. Follow this link to discover id it was YOU!

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Elizabeth Gaskell & Jane Austen: Comparisons are Inevitable

A comparison (of Elizabeth Gaskell) to Jane Austen for its combination of humor and moral judgment in the observation of character and conduct is often made, not unjustly, though Mrs. Gaskell’s canvas is larger than Austen’s bit of ivory.” Edgar Wright

Victorian-era author Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) has been said to have a “wit to challenge Jane Austen’s, a conscience of social struggle unrivalled by Dickens, and charm and values to enrapture George Eliot’s fans.” This is high praise indeed to be mentioned with such exalted literary company, and we are fortune that several of her novels have been recently adapted into movies by the BBC/WGBH: Wives and Daughter (1999), North and South (2004) Cranford (2007) and now Return to Cranford (2009), which will be presented on Masterpiece Classic on the next two Sundays (January 10th & 17th) on PBS. You can read a preview of the series here.

Like Jane Austen, Mrs. Gaskell wrote six major novels, her last novel Wives and Daughters was published posthumously in 1865. Her characters are so engaging and finely drawn that comparisons Continue reading “Elizabeth Gaskell & Jane Austen: Comparisons are Inevitable”

Return to Cranford Preview – the enchantment continues Sunday on Masterpiece Classic

Image from Return to Cranford: Cranford ladies leaving church © BBC Worldwide 2010 for MASTERPIECE

The Masterpiece Classic season premieres on Sunday, January 10th with Return to Cranford, a two part series based on the stories of Victorian-era writer Elizabeth Gaskell. Dame Judi Dench reprises her role of the compassionate Miss Matty Jenkyns, the heart and soul of the small insular Cheshire village resisting the encroachment of the industrial revolution in 1844 England. Also returning as Miss Matty’s dearest friends are Octavia Pole the quirky town gossip (Imelda Staunton – Charlotte Palmer in Sense and Sensibility 1995), the eccentric Mrs. Forrester who dresses her prized cow in flannel pajamas (Julia McKenzie – the eponymous Miss Marple), the self elevated town aristocrat Mrs. Jamieson (Barbara Flynn – Miss Browning in Wives and Daughters) and the dotty but well intentioned Miss Tomkinson (Deborah Findlay – Miss Phoebe in Wives and Daughters). Here is brief synopsis of the first episode from the good folks at PBS: Continue reading “Return to Cranford Preview – the enchantment continues Sunday on Masterpiece Classic”

Some Say that Gaskell is Austen embellished with Dickens…

Image of Cranford on Masterpiece Classic (2007)

A comparison (of Elizabeth Gaskell) to Jane Austen for its combination of humor and moral judgment in the observation of character and conduct is often made, not unjustly, though Mrs. Gaskell’s canvas is larger than Austen’s bit of ivory.Edgar Wright 

Image of portrait of Elizabeth Gaskell, (1832)Victorian author Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) has been said to have a “wit to challenge Jane Austen’s, a conscience of social struggle unrivalled by Dickens, and charm and values to enrapture George Eliot’s fans”. This is high praise indeed to be mentioned with such exalted literary company, and we are fortunate that several of her novels have been recently adapted into movies by the BBC; Wives and Daughter (1999), North and South (2004) and now Cranford, which will be presented on the next three Sundays (May 4th, 11th and 18th) on PBS. 

Image of the book cover of Cranford (2007)Cranford is a combination of four of Elizabeth Gaskells’ stories; Cranford, Dr. Harrison’s Confessions, My Lady Ludlow aka Round the Sofa, and The Last Generation in England;  that were written as short stories for her employer Charles Dickens’ magazine Household Words between 1851- 1853. It offers us a glimpse of Victorian life in a rural English village circa 1842, introducing us to many memorable characters that revolve around the lives of Misses Deborah (Eileen Atkins) and Matty (Judi Dench) Jenkyns; – two spinsters who live a seemingly quiet life full of “busy nothings” with their mostly female community of Cranford as they face adversity and change. 

Image of Cranford ladies, Miss Deborah (Eileen Atkins), Mary Smith (Lisa Dillon), and Miss Matty (Judi Dench)

The characters are so engaging and finely drawn that comparisons to Miss Austen are inevitable, and we see a bit of Miss Bates (Emma), Mrs. Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) and Lady Bertram (Mansfield Park) in Mrs. Gaskells’s characterizations. Life in the village of Cranford has it’s similarities to Meryton (Pride and Prejudice) or Highbury (Emma), but Gaskell’s narrative is more expansive than Austen, introducing a wider social and economic sphere into her characters lives, and we feel the influence of her contemporaries such as author Charles Dickens’ deeper social commentary and moral sensibility throughout the story. 

Image of Mrs. Forrester (Julia McKenzie) and Miss Pole (Imelda Staunton), Cranford (2007)

The new adaptation of Cranford aired in the UK last fall to rave reviews, so this series is highly anticipated by many Masterpiece fans, and a fit finale to the Classic portion of the re-modeled Masterpiece Theatre which began last January with The Complete Jane Austen series. You can prime yourself for the premiere at these fine sites… 

*Image of the miniature portrait of Elizabeth Gaskell, circa 1832 by William John Thomson (Scottish, born circa 1771-1845)

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