Elizabeth Gaskell

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A little credulity helps one on through life very smoothly.

Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (September 29 1810November 12 1865) was a British fiction-writer and biographer who witnessed and recorded the transformation of northern England by the Industrial Revolution. She was born Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson; her married name is often given in the form Mrs. Gaskell.


  • Trust a girl of sixteen for knowing well if she is pretty; concerning her plainness she may be ignorant.
  • Were all men equal to-night, some would get the start by rising an hour earlier to-morrow.
    • Mary Barton, ch. 37.
  • A wise parent humours the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and adviser when his absolute rule shall cease.
  • That kind of patriotism which consists in hating all other nations.
  • It is odd enough to see how the entrance of a person of the opposite sex into an assemblage of either men or women calms down the little discordances and the disturbance of mood.
  • Thinking more of others’ happiness than of her own was very fine; but did it not mean giving up her very individuality, quenching all the warm love, the true desires, that made her herself? Yet in this deadness lay her only comfort; so it seemed.
  • It was his general plan to repress emotion by not showing the sympathy he felt.
  • I daresay it seems foolish; perhaps all our earthly trials will appear foolish to us after a while; perhaps they seem so now to angels. But we are ourselves, you know, and this is now, not some time to come, a long, long way off. And we are not angels, to be comforted by seeing the ends for which everything is sent.
  • People may flatter themselves just as much by thinking that their faults are always present to other people's minds, as if they believe that the world is always contemplating their individual charms and virtues.

Cranford (1851–3)

  • Economy was always "elegant", and money-spending always "vulgar and ostentatious"; a sort of sour-grapeism, which made us very peaceful and satisfied.
    • Ch. 1
  • A little credulity helps one on through life very smoothly.
    • Ch. 11
  • I'll not listen to reason…Reason always means what someone else has got to say.
    • Ch. 14

Quotes about Elizabeth Gaskell

  • I like Mrs. Gaskell. Why do we always call her Mrs? Elizabeth. She wrote Mary Barton. I think people are very familiar with that book. But North and South is really a very fine piece of work. A lot of North and South has that whole awful industrial growth in it, and she does naturally a lot better by her ladies than Dickens does, so it's really worth reading for that. There's a funny book called Cranford that has a lot of short things in it, but one of them is this scene where everybody is rushing down to get the paper which the next serial of either Hard Times or Bleak House is in. I felt like she must have felt a little annoyed about all that. But I like her an awful lot, and if you haven't read North and South, do.
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