November 11th, 2004

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Mr. and Ms. Gaskell

"The world is perhaps at the point of the greatest crisis in human history, and there seem to be two attitudes we can assume. One is calmness, faith and conviction; the other would be despair, and despair is unthinkable. Let each, in his own way, dedicate his time, his service and his spiritual conviction to the common cause of liberty and justice for all. Let's work without tiring and pray without ceasing"--
Ernest Holmes, 1950

Elizabeth Gaskell wrote those kind of Victorian novels which make perfectly good reads, but which do not receive the commemoration that other novelists of her era receive. Her work could have a sketch-oriented quality, anticipating in some ways other writers who would abandon the strictures of plot and play with the possibilities of the novel. But Mrs. Gaskell used the novel form to write about social justice. Mrs. Gaskell was spurred to writing fiction by two events in her life. One was the observation of conditions for the poor in Manchester, England, where her husband was a Unitarian minister. The other was the loss of her son. She was encouraged to write by her husband, a Unitarian minister and social activist who encouraged and defended his wife's choice to pursue her muse throughout her life.

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