North and South at BRLSI

Saturday 21st November: Most BRLSI lectures are on weekday evenings, but we do have the occasional Saturday afternoon event. Today’s was the first of what will hopefully become a regular collaboration with the Gaskell Society, as Dr Gillian Ballinger of the University of the West of England came to speak on North and South and the Condition of England Novel.
 
Dr Ballinger spoke of turbulent times in 19-century England, the explosive growth of Manchester’s population (40% between 1821-31) and the effect that seeing its living and working conditions (average age at death was 17) had on Elizabeth Gaskell. Accused of class betrayal by reviewers of her novel Mary Barton, and pushed by her publisher (one Charles Dickens) to cram North and South into weekly instalments (she managed to negotiate an extra two weeks, but complained that the ending still had to be rushed), she nevertheless produced a milestone in social commentary.
Dr Ballinger’s commentary was much appreciated by a good-sized audience who’d braved some very wet and blustery weather to be there. For details of more Saturday afternoon lectures (including more co-events with the Gaskell Society), keep an eye on our What’s On page. Advance notice – another joint event is being held on April 20th 2010, this time with Bath Shakespeare Society, to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday.

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