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Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories [Paperback]

Jenny Uglow
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Oct 1999
High-spirited, witty and passionate, Elizabeth Gaskell wrote some of the most enduring novels of the Victorian age, including Mary Barton, North and South and Wives and Daughters. In this widely acclaimed biography, Jenny Uglow shows her as an artist of unrecognized complexity, a shrewd observer of life and a compelling personality.

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Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories + George Eliot + The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future 1730-1810
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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (4 Oct 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571203590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571203598
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.2 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,430 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Jenny Uglow grew up in Cumbria and now works in publishing. Her books include prize-winning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell and William Hogarth. The Lunar Men, published in 2002, was described by Richard Holmes as 'an extraordinarily gripping account', while her most recent biography, Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, won the National Arts Writers Award for 2007. She lives in Canterbury.Jenny Uglow grew up in Cumbria and now works in publishing. Her books include prize-winning biographies of Elizabeth Gaskell and William Hogarth. The Lunar Men, published in 2002, was described by Richard Holmes as 'an extraordinarily gripping account', while Nature's Engraver: A Life of Thomas Bewick, won the National Arts Writers Award for 2007 and A Gambling Man: Charles II and the Restoration was shortlisted for the 2010 Samuel Johnson Prize. Her most recent book, The Pinecone, tells the story of Romantic visionary Sarah Losh. She lives in Canterbury.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography 30 April 2010
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderfully detailed, scholarly, and readable biography. A great place to start discovering Gaskell and her world. Gaskell is a gossipy, lively, endlessly engaging subject, and Uglow does her full justice.

'Remember, every little, leetle, particular about yourself, and your concerns, and gossipry, and scandal, are most welcome to me, but especially all that interests you, and Elizabeth personally, down to the uninteresting in general basons of tapioca you have at lunch...' - there's Gaskell in a nutshell, in a letter she wrote to her friend in 1831. Everything interests her, from tapioca to scandals, and Uglow shows how she turns all these details of everyday life into fiction; how her interest in the personal feeds into her novel-writing.

What I found particularly engaging about this book was the way in which Uglow takes Gaskell's Unitarian faith seriously, and explains how important Unitarianism was to the nineteenth century. She deftly outlines Gaskell's religion, and her network of Unitarian friends and relatives, bringing out a broader historical context in an absorbing way. This is an excellent introduction to her works, but Uglow's scholarship means it is also a reliable source for those wanting to take their studies further.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 12 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I so looked forward to this book as I am a fan of Elizabeth Gaskell's books and was very curious to know more about a writer that successfully combined motherhood and a writing career at a time when this was most unusual. But I am disappointed . The paperback edition I got has very small type and is so densely bound that it is hard to read the text in the crack. This made reading difficult and unpleasant. Perhaps the hardback avoided this problem, which is no solace to me after purchasing the paperback. I also found that although the writer really knows what she is talking about and has done amazing research, it was difficult to follow. A shorter, more concise book would have been better. A book more for academia than general reading - though I think good writing should be good for both.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elizabeth Gaskell: A Habit of Stories 27 Sep 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jenny Uglow is a superb writer with a rare feeling for capturing the times she writes about and bringing the reader into them. I love and admire the work of Mrs. Gaskell and this biography adds greatly to my understanding of her.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and readable 7 Aug 2013
By Preston
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good read for many reasons. I even felt sad when I reached the end. Excellent and well researched. For scholars and lay readers alike and gives a real sense of the writer and the time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as her later books 5 Mar 2013
By M. OWEN
Format:Paperback
A very educated book. Almost as if Jenny Uglow is deliberately showing off her knowledge. But not an easy read. For example, Elizabeth Gaskell's childhood is described in the context of the great people of the day - many of whom were distant relatives of Gaskell. FAR too much name dropping!! Too much going off on tangents. Too much philosophical and religious discussion. Every morsel of the extensive research is `shown off' to the detriment of the flow of the book. I would have preferred a simpler description of Gaskell's life. Even a more gossipy book. Gaskell's stepmother, step brother and sister are hardly mentioned while Darwin, Dickens, Wordsworth, Browning, Humphry Davy etc. etc. have an extensive `write up'.
I have learnt a lot about the politics of the day - but not much about Elizabeth Gaskell's life and character.
This book does not have the quality of Uglow's highly enjoyable "The Gambling Man" published 10 years later - where the written style is informative and relevant to the subject and (best of all) can be described as a `good read'. It's such a shame that `Elizabeth Gaskell' was not written in the same style.
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