Ranking alongside Charlotte Bronte and George Eliot as one of the great Victorian authoresses, Elizabeth Gaskell is now chiefly remembered for penning the radical novel North and South, and Cranford, recently adapted by the BBC. She was also a regular contributor to Dickens' periodicals. Highly influential among her peers, Gaskell forged friendships with contemporary authors, most famously perhaps with Charlotte Bronte, whose biography she wrote, producing a work that is still regarded as one of the finest examples of life-writing. Famed for her adeptness at capturing local dialect and the voices of middle-class characters, Gaskell skilfully imbued all her writing with a sense of the intimate and everyday. Due to her prolific letter-writing, records remain of her own daily experiences and thoughts. In this new biography, Alan Shelston, founder of The Gaskell Society Journal, sheds light on the life of the woman behind the writing: her literary successes, and also her marriage and humanitarian work.