Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Elizabeth Gaskell Train

I just stumbled across the information that there is now an Elizabeth Gaskell train! It is located in the Manchester (England) area where she lived, and where much of her fiction is set. What a wonderful idea and tribute to this great writer! As I wrote here on 4/20/10, Gaskell is a writer whose work I admire and love. Her work was popular in her time, then little read for years, then rediscovered during the 1970s by feminist scholars. Her novels include “Mary Barton,” "Wives and Daughters,” “North and South,” and – my favorite – “Cranford.” She also wrote a biography of her friend Charlotte Bronte. So this news about the Elizabeth Gaskell train made me happy. And in a delightful coincidence: When I was traveling by train in Norway last month, a young female German physician sat next to me and we had a long, enjoyable conversation about all sorts of things, including literature; she, like me, was a great reader. She mentioned reading and liking Gaskell’s “North and South,” and I recommended she also read “Cranford.” To have had an unexpected conversation about Gaskell on a train in a faraway (for me) country, and then a few days later, just by chance, to learn about the Gaskell train, seemed like a lovely case of serendipity!


  1. Steph, what a lovely loop of images: in a train, discussing a favorite author with a simpatico stranger, and then learning of a train dedicated to that author! I don't think I've read Elizabeth Gaskell. I'm going to go put "Cranford" on my library queue.

    1. Thanks, Mary! I thought it was a lovely coincidence! Yes, do read "Cranford," and please let me know what you think of it. I love that it is about a community of mostly women, mostly older, and that the events are mostly daily and undramatic but reveal the humanity and warm connections and mutual support of the characters.


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