Mary Barton

Subtitled 'A Tale of Manchester Life', Elizabeth Gaskell’s (1810-1865) first novel (published anonymously in 1848) is classed as a ‘Condition of England’ work. It conveys contemporary concerns about the destructive effects of industrialisation. Thomas Carlyle termed this period the ‘mechanical age’, and forecast revolution if changes were not effected. Gaskell was married to a Unitarian minister, and was deeply aware of the need for improved working conditions; for education, and for sanitary reform. The novel's working-class heroine is torn between affection for two very different men, one from her own class, the other an industrialist’s son.

Creator:
Elizabeth Gaskell
Published:
1848
Full title:
Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life
Forms:
Prose
Genre:
Victorian literature
Literary period:
Victorian

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An introduction to Mary Barton

Article by:
John Sutherland
Theme:
The novel 1832–1880

Professor John Sutherland explores the personal and social circumstances that prompted Elizabeth Gaskell to write Mary Barton, her novel describing industrial poverty in Manchester during the 'hungry forties'.

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Theme:
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Professor Tim Youngs considers how Victorian authors chronicled and questioned Britain’s imperial expansion.

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Article by:
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The novel 1832–1880

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