The humour in ‘Cranford’ (1853) is so sly it can be difficult to believe it was written over 150 years ago. Originally published in instalments and edited by Charles Dickens, the novel follows a delightful group of women in a small town who are united by all being single, poor, and proud. Written with acute observation, ‘Cranford’ is in equal parts affectionate, moving and darkly satirical. ‘Cranford’ has been adapted for television by BBC three times, and the latest version from 2007 featured Dame Judy Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865) was an English novelist, short story writer, and biographer, best known for her novels ‘North and South’ and ‘Wives and Daughters’ as well as her biography of Charlotte Brontë. Gaskell was viewed as a minor author until the 1950s where it became evident that her depiction of industrial environments and social problems was brilliant and poignant.