Authors: Elizabeth Gaskell
|1800||The Napoleonic Wars begin.|
|1810||Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson is born on September 29 in London to Unitarian parents. She is her parents’ eighth and last child.|
|1811||Elizabeth’s mother dies, and she is taken in by her mother’s sister, Hannah Holland Lumb, in the town of Knutsford in Cheshire. Jane Austen’s|
Sense and Sensibility
|1812||Charles Dickens, future publisher and friend of Elizabeth Gaskell, is born.|
|1814||Elizabeth’s father remarries. Elizabeth remains in Knutsford with her aunt.|
|1815||Anthony Trollope is born. The Napoleonic Wars end with the Battle of Waterloo.|
|1816||Charlotte Brontë is born on April 21 in Thornton, England, the third of six children of the Reverend Patrick and Maria Branwell Brontë.|
|1817||Patrick Branwell Brontë is born.|
|1818||Emily Brontë is born.|
|1819||Novelist George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans) is born. John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” is published. Victoria, the future queen, is born.|
|1820||Anne Brontë is born, and the Brontë family moves to Haworth, where Reverend Brontë has been offered a lifetime curacy. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s|
|1821||Charlotte’s mother, Maria, dies, and her sister, Elizabeth Branwell, moves into the Brontë household to help raise the six young children.|
|1822||Elizabeth Gaskell enters the liberal-minded Avonbank School at Stratford-on-Avon, where she spends the next five years absorbed in her studies. She receives an excellent education, unlike many girls of her generation.|
|1825||Maria and Elizabeth Brontë contract what is probably tuberculosis and die. Charlotte and Emily are pulled out of school to return home to Haworth.|
|1826||The four surviving Brontë siblings create the “Young Men” plays, the first of their imaginative fictional writings, which are followed in 1827 by “Our Fellows” and “The Islanders.”|
|1828||Tragedy grips the Stevenson family when John disappears on a trip with the East India Company to India. Elizabeth travels to London to nurse her father, whose health is deteriorating.|
|1829||William Stevenson dies, and Elizabeth lives with a distant relative, Unitarian minister William Turner. She is exposed to a socially progressive and intellectual way of life that will inform her fictional works.|
|1830||Modern rail travel begins in England.|
|1831||On a trip to Manchester, Elizabeth meets her future husband, William Gaskell, an assistant minister at an important Unitarian center, the Cross Street Chapel.|
|1832||Elizabeth and William Gaskell marry in Knutsford. After their honeymoon in Wales, they reside in Manchester. The First Reform Act redistributes parliamentary seats and extends voting rights for the middle classes.|
|1833||Gaskell suffers the stillborn birth of her first child. Slavery is abolished in the British Empire.|
|1834||A daughter, Marianne, is born to Gaskell.|
|1835||Charlotte Brontë teaches at Miss Wooler’s school at Roe Head.|
|1836||Gaskell writes the poem “On Visiting the Grave of My Stillborn Little Girl, Sunday July 4|
|1837||The narrative poem “Sketches Among the Poor, No. 1,” which Gaskell wrote with her husband, is published by Blackwood’s|
A daughter, Margaret Emily, known as Meta, is born. Charlotte Brontë writes to Robert Southey, the British poet laureate, to ask his opinion of her poetry. His disheartening response implies that while Charlotte displays what Wordsworth calls “faculty of verse,” this is nothing extraordinary in a time of so many successful poets. He goes on to declare that women have no place in the business of literature. Queen Victoria assumes the throne of England.
|1838||Charlotte resigns from her teaching position at Miss Wooler’s school. Dickens’s|
|1839||Charlotte works for the next three years as a governess, first in Lothersdale and later in Rawdon.|
|1840||“Clopton Hall,” a short essay recalling a visit to Clopton House during Gaskell’s school days, is included in William Howitt’s|
Visits to Remarkable Places.
Thomas Hardy is born.
|1842||A daughter, Florence, is born to Gaskell. Charlotte and Emily Brontë travel to Brussels to study at Pensionnat Heger, where they read, among other things, works by French and German Romantics. They stay less than a year, returning to Haworth because their aunt Elizabeth Branwell has died.|
|1843- 1844||Charlotte spends a second year at the Pensionnat in Brussels honing her French and German language skills. She develops a strong emotional attachment to her married employer and former teacher, Constantin Heger. Charlotte returns to Haworth in January 1844. A son, William, is born to Gaskell in 1844.|
|1845||While on family vacation in Wales, the infant William contracts scarlet fever and dies. Gaskell distracts herself from her grief by focusing on her writing. Friedrich Engels’s Die Lage der|
n England (The Condition of the Working Class in England)
|1846||A daughter, Julia Bradford, is born to Gaskell. In February, Charlotte sends a manuscript,|
Poems by Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell
(the pen names of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, respectively), to the London publisher Aylott and Jones. The poems are published in May at the sisters’ expense; only two copies are sold. In June Charlotte completes her first novel,
By the end of the year she has begun work on
|1847||Gaskell’s “Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras” appears in Howitt’s|
published by fellow Unitarian William Howitt. While Charlotte’s manuscript for
is rejected by various publishers, her sisters’ novels—Anne’s
and Emily’s Wuthering
accepted for publication by Thomas Cautley Newby. Charlotte approaches another publisher, Smith, Elder, with Jane
which is published in October to instant success, overshadowing the publication in December of her sisters’
|novels and surpassing them in acclaim. All three sisters are still publishing under their “Bell” pen names.|
|1848||Gaskell’s first novel,|
Mary Barton: A Tale of
is published anonymously, although the author’s identity is immediately uncovered. The sympathetic portrait of mill workers and their unbearable living conditions infuriates Manchester factory owners. Amid growing rumors that there is only one “Bell” writer, Charlotte and Anne travel to London to prove otherwise. Charlotte’s publisher, George Smith, learns the truth of the Brontës’ identities but is sworn to protect their secret. In September, Branwell Brontë dies after a sustained bout of depression, alcoholism, and drug use; in December, Emily dies of tuberculosis. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’s
nistischen Partei (Communist Manifesto)
is published. Major rebellions take place in France, Austria, Prussia, and other European countries. William Makepeace Thackeray’s
|1849||Gaskell’s writing finds many admirers, and she meets Dickens, Thackeray, and Wordsworth, among other well-known authors. In May, Anne Brontë dies of tuberculosis. Charlotte’s novel|
is published by Smith, Elder. In November, Charlotte travels again to London, this time as a successful author. She, like Gaskell, meets one of her literary idols, William Makepeace Thackeray.
|1850||Charlotte returns to London. In August, she travels to Windermere, where she and Elizabeth Gaskell meet for the first time. The two will become close friends. In December, Charlotte writes the prefaces and biographical notes for her sisters’ novels; she reveals the true identities of the “Bells” and works to protect the posthumous reputations of Emily and Anne, who have received some criticism for their “coarse” and “nihilisbtic” writings. Several of Gaskell’s works, including “The Heart of John Middleton,” are published in Charles Dickens’s weekly journal|
Household Words. The Moorland Cottage,
a novella, is published in book form.
|1851||The first two chapters of Cranford—often considered Gaskell’s most popular work—are published in|
(the final installments will appear in 1853). “The Deserted Mansion” appears in Fraser’s
is published in book form; the novel stirs controversy because it questions the conventional wisdom that the life of a “fallen woman” necessarily ends in ruin. Cranford is published in book form. The stories “Cumberland Sheep Shearers” and “The Squire’s Story,” among others, appear in
is published in January. In April, Charlotte and Gaskell spend a week together in Manchester; in September, Gaskell visits Charlotte at Haworth.
North and South,
which addresses social problems, is serialized in
Gaskell meets Florence Nightingale in London. In June, Charlotte marries Arthur Bell Nicholls, whom she has known since 1845, when he began work as a curate at Haworth.
|1855||Charlotte is happily married for a few months, but early in the year she becomes ill; she dies on March 31. Her father asks Gaskell to write Charlotte’s biography North|
is published in book form, and
publishes Gaskell’s “An Accursed Race” and “Half a Life-Time Ago.” A group of Gaskell’s short stories is published as the book
Lizzie Leigh and Other Stories.
The Life of Charlotte
Brontë is published. Although it is praised by most, some individuals depicted in the work threaten legal action over the way they are portrayed. Charlotte’s first novel and the last to bear her name,
is published, though the book’s release is partly obscured by the enormous interest readers show in Gaskell’s biography of her. The Matrimonial Causes Act enables women to inherit, own, and bequeath property.
|1858||Gaskell’s “The Doom of the Griffiths” appears in the American monthly|
Harper’s New Monthly Magazine.
“My Lady Ludlow” and other short stories are published in
|1859||Round the Sofa and Other Tales,|
a book of short stories, is published. Several short stories appear in
All the Year Round,
Dickens’s new weekly magazine. Darwin’s On
the Origin of Species
A Tale of Two
Cities are published.
Last and Other Tales,
a book of short stories, is published.
|1861||The American Civil War begins.|
|1862||“Six Weeks at Heppenheim” is published in the Cornhill Magazine.|
|1863||“A Dark Night’s Work” appears in All the Year|
Phyllis, a short novel, is serialized in the Cornhill
to be concluded early in 1864. The story’s country setting prefigures a more detailed portrait in
Wives and Daughters.
The novel Sylvia’s
set in Napoléon’s time, is published.
|1864||The first installments of|
Wives and Daughters
appear in the
The novel evokes the pastoral setting of Gaskell’s girlhood country home.
|1865||As a surprise for her husband’s future retirement, Gaskell buys a country house in Hampshire with the proceeds from her writing. Physically exhausted, and yet to complete the final installment of her novel, Gaskell dies suddenly on a visit to the house on November 12. She is buried at Brook Street Chapel in Knutsford.|
|1866||The serial publication of|
Wives and Daughters
ends. In lieu of the novel’s last installment, the editor of the
writes a note that explains how he thinks the author would have completed the book. The novel is released in book form.
|1928||In August, Haworth Parsonage opens to the public as the Brontë Parsonage Museum.|