As a member of the Gaskell Society, I received an interesting email this morning that I have received permission to post here.
Jim Bevis, Gaddum Centre writes:
I have been doing a little research into Mrs Gaskell as I work for the Gaddum Charity - which is now 175 years old, in 1862 the charity was the main distributor of relief during the cotton famine in Manchester - it had always been rumoured that Mrs Gaskell did voluntary work for the charity at the time in a sewing school for unemployed "Mill Lass's".
I have recently been to the local archives and finally found with the support of Joan Leach a record of her working in the sewing school.
For details, visit the Gaddum Centre's History page.
It doesn't surprise me at all that Elizabeth Gaskell and her daughters did this volunteer work--she had a big heart and a lot of energy and a finely-tuned conscience, not to mention her talent as a writer and storyteller. What a remarkable woman.