2010 marks the bicentenary of Elizabeth Gaskell's birth (September 25 to be exact), and there are a host of wonderful events planned for those willing and able to make the pilgrimage to Manchester, where she spent her married life, and Knutsford, where she lived as a young girl and which is the model for her fictional town of Cranford.
Visit this website for complete details, but to whet your appetite, here's some of the very appealling activities that are planned:
In and around Knutsford (Cheshire)
Knutsford was also the home of the young Elizabeth Gaskell and her inspiration for Cranford. During 2010 Knutsford will host a variety of fascinating events including 'Cranford Guided Tours', 'Brook Street Chapel Flower Festival', the 'Victorian Music Hall' at Knutsford Little Theatre, 'Royal May Day Weekend' and the 'Local Trade and Business's Exhibition 1810-1865' at the Knutsford Heritage Centre.
Brook Street Chapel
Knutsford and District Flower Club are creating the flower arrangements and each arrangement will depict one of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Novels. There will also be a special arrangement on her grave. Food & drinks will be served by members of the chapel dressed in Victorian Costume. This will be held either in the chapel garden or in the schoolroom depending on the weather. 10.30am - 5.30pm except Sunday 1pm - 5.30pm
Knutsford Heritage Centre
Elizabeth Gaskell's Life - Trades and Businesses 1810 - 1865: A special exhibition to celebrate the bi-centenary of Elizabeth Gaskell’s birth. This will give an insight into Knutsford as it was during the Victorian period when she lived in the town. It will focus on local shops and businesses as it was then, and how it now is today, presented through images, photographs, early archive material and documents. The town was the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel ‘Cranford’, and Knutsford Heritage Centre will be featuring special guided ‘Cranford Walks’ in the town to celebrate the bi-centenary.
Discover Knutsford's Cranford Days: Elizabeth Gaskell created a version of Knutsford in CRANFORD, but how true was this to the real Victorian town? Local historian and Gaskell Society founding Honorary Secretary Joan Leach MBE, will lead this trail back through the years with anecdotes of her life and the times of old Knutsford. The walk will end at the 300 year Brook Street Chapel where light refreshments will be served. 27th June 2010 - 2.30pm. £5 to be donated to Brook Street Chapel's fund
In and Around Manchester
Portico Library Manchester
Elizabeth Gaskell - A Writer's Life: To celebrate the bicentenary of Manchester's most important writer, this exhibition draws together an overview of her life and work with special items from the library's own collection and some rarely-seem treasures. 31st March - 30th April - 9.30am - 4.30pm (Excluding 2nd & 5th April 2010)
Elizabeth Gaskell & Charlotte Bronte; a costumed reading: This presentation by the InterTheatre performers tells the story of the friendship between two of the nineteenth century's greatest writers in their own words. 13th April 2010 - 6.30pm - 7.15pm followed by buffet 7.15pm-8.45pm
Manchester Visitor Information Centre
Elizabeth Gaskell Walking & Rail Tour: Starting in Manchester, visit locations connected with Gaskell and her family, and learn about her life and books. Then we take the train to elegant Knutsford for lunch, before looking at places in the town connected with her. Finishes Manchester Piccadilly Rail Station. 9.15am - 4.30pm. £26 including coffee, lunch, donations and travel. Booking Essential
Queen Victoria statue, Piccadilly Gardens
Spindles, Slump & Sexy Lycra - the Textile Tour: From weavers cottages through palazzo warehouses to university 3-D, with Blue Badge Guide Kate Dibble trace the history and future of Manchester textiles through architecture and materials. 19th May 2010 - Start 2pm from Queen Victoria Statue, Piccadilly Gardens, finish 4.30pm City Centre. Price £6/£5 Just turn up!
Capitol Theatre, Manchester Metropolitan University
Dear Scheherazade by Gabrielle Drake: Gabrielle Drake, star of stage and TV, in her one-woman show, telling the story of Elizabeth Gaskell's life in the writer's own words. 16th June 2010 - 7pm for 7.30pm
The John Rylands Library
Elizabeth Gaskell: A Connected Life: Elizabeth Gaskell was a prolific correspondent and stood at the centre of a wide and varied social network. Her personal connections extended to people in many different walks of life – from some of the most famous figures of the day to the poorest factory workers in her home town of Manchester.
This exhibition, which marks the bicentenary of her birth, draws on the Library’s world-class Gaskell collections to explore her place in these diverse communities. It looks at how her social networks influenced her fiction and the worlds she depicted in her books. It also considers the worldwide community of readers past and present who have found enjoyment in Gaskell’s work.
Gaskell at Rylands and Plymouth Grove: With Blue Badge Guide Kate Dibble, a close-up look at a Gaskell Exhibition at Rylands before a visit to her former home. Price includes tea & cake. 20th July - 2pm from John Rylands Library, finish 4.30pm at Piccadilly Station. Book with guide on 0161 864 2640.
Westminster Abbey: Dedication of window in Poets' Corner, September 25 (the 200th anniversary of Gaskell's birth)
I would love to be able to attend even a few of these events (okay, even one!) but alas, a trip to the UK is not in my plans for 2010.
I have done a lot of posting about Gaskell in the past. If you're new to Gaskell, I would like to recommend my post: Top Ten Things to Know About Elizabeth Gaskell or Reading Gaskell for the First Time?