North and South

A novel by Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865), published serially in Household Words in 1854–55 and in volume form in 1855. In 1853 Elizabeth Gaskell visited Spottiswoode’s printing works in London, and was impressed by the caring family atmosphere. She perceived that capitalism could be combined with compassion. Her third novel, North and South is a ‘Condition of England’ novel, but also a Bildungsroman, tracing the protagonist’s personal development. The author draws a contrast between the industrial north and the rural south. Margaret Hale is from a genteel background in the home counties. After moving to Milton Northern, she gradually becomes drawn to the workers’ cause. Gaskell antagonised Charles Dickens during the book’s serialisation in Household Words. He blamed her ‘wearisome novel’ for falling sales.

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