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Archived Group Reads 2016 > Cranford Time Line

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter Here is the location for our building of a time line for Cranford. By adding information found in the novel regarding actual historical events and other information we hope to build a background reference to the novel and trace the development and age of the narrator as well.

It's just for fun and exploration. Please add any information, clues facts or insights you have. All information is welcome.


message 2: by Peter (last edited Oct 12, 2016 02:22PM) (new)

Peter gaskellblog.wordpress.com

https://gaskellblog.wordpress.com/201...


Here is a link to information on the publication dates of Cranford in Dickens's Household Words.

The web site has other detailed information on Cranford as well.


Everyman | 2507 comments One hard date a Dickens researcher should be able to find fairly easily is the mention, in Chapter 1, from Pickwick Papers:

“Just allow me to read you a scene out of this month’s number,” pleaded he. “I had it only this morning, and I don’t think the company can have read it yet.”

“As you please,” said she, settling herself with an air of resignation. He read the account of the “swarry” which Sam Weller gave at Bath."

So if we can find that passage and know which month that issue came out, we have one firm date to start tying things to.


message 4: by Peter (new)

Peter Everyman wrote: "One hard date a Dickens researcher should be able to find fairly easily is the mention, in Chapter 1, from Pickwick Papers:

“Just allow me to read you a scene out of this month’s number,” pleaded ..."


Yes. Thanks.


LindaH | 499 comments A great resource, Peter. There is much, but while reading, I wanted to stop and post a link to the short story mentioned in the blog, "The Cage at Cranford ". A few paragraphs in, Mary Smith talks about her age...over 30, this is 1856. Miss Pole is 65.

https://www.lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~mats...


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda wrote: "A great resource, Peter. There is much, but while reading, I wanted to stop and post a link to the short story mentioned in the blog, "The Cage at Cranford ". A few paragraphs in, Mary Smith talks ..."

OK. As Sherlock Holmes would say "the game is afoot."


LindaH | 499 comments I have found an excuse to read the various introductions to Cranford. This tidbit is from that by Adolphus William Ward 1906:

“(I wonder, by the way, how many readers of the opening description of the Cranford ladies identify “Miss Tyler” of cleanly memory as the “eccentric Aunt” who brought up Southey when a little boy, and who cramped his childhood with her restrictions, never allowing him “to do anything by which he might dirt himself.”)

He appears to refer to actual person, Southey. Time reference may show up.


LindaH | 499 comments Another morsel from A. W. Ward: ibid.

“The “Benefit Society for the Poor,” started by Deborah and her mother, is the Female Benefit Society, founded by Mrs. Holland of Church House in 1806, and said to be still in existence. The “Cranford” races, by which all the post-horses of the town were absorbed, are the Knutsford races, which continued, we learn, from 1729 to 1873."


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda wrote: "Another morsel from A. W. Ward: ibid.

“The “Benefit Society for the Poor,” started by Deborah and her mother, is the Female Benefit Society, founded by Mrs. Holland of Church House in 1806, and sa..."


Linda

You have turned up some very interesting information and links to and about Cranford. Once one finds an author of interest beyond the mere reading of a plot, entire worlds of possibilities open up.

I am looking forward to reading the Gaskell letters. I believe I will be able to sign the book out of the university library. Here's hoping ...


message 10: by Peter (new)

Peter https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rober...

I would hazard a guess that the Southey reference is to this poet.


LindaH | 499 comments Oh THAT Southey...the one to whom Charlotte Bronte bravely sent her poem


LindaH | 499 comments Cont.
Allusions out-of-context are tricky for me. Thanks for the catch, Peter!


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter http://www.djo.org.uk/indexes/authors...

Here is a reference from the web site that contains all the material published in Household Words.

I will do further digging but it seems that the issue of HW that contains the first of Cranford's parts was December 13, 1851.


message 14: by Peter (new)

Peter http://www.djo.org.uk/household-words...

Out of interest here is a link to Household Words that has digitized the entire run of HW. You can see the original serial publication of Cranford.


LindaH | 499 comments Indexes link feels nicely immersive. What does V, 55-64 represent?

"Visiting at Cranford ", V, 55-64, April 3, 1852


message 16: by Peter (last edited Oct 13, 2016 09:45PM) (new)

Peter I believe it refers to the Volume of HW and then the page numbers of that volume.

If you go to my post 14 and open the site you will see in the top left side the reference guides. Having said all this, I hope I am right. :-))

Thus V, 55-64 would be Volume V Pages 55-64.

I have tracked down the Sam Weller use of the word "swarry" to Chapter XXXIII of Pickwick Papers. I am now in the process of finding what original part number of PP that chapter was in. Then, we will have the original publication date and thus be able to put Captain Browne's comments within a month and year.


LindaH | 499 comments Re Everyman 's post ...pickwick...

“Card-tables, with green baize tops, were set out by daylight, just as usual; it was the third week in November, so the evenings closed in about four. "

“Just allow me to read you a scene out of this month’s number,” pleaded he. “I had it only this morning, and I don’t think the company can have read it yet.”


LindaH | 499 comments p268, HW...Thanks for the link to the digitalized original text. I have finally read it as Dickens revised it! Delicious.

Will ponder on the morrow.


message 19: by Peter (new)

Peter February 1837 is the month chapter XXXIII of The Pickwick Papers first appeared in its instalment form.

I will double confirm the chapter reference by reading through that chapter ... when I get a copy of PP. I confess I do not have one.

It's a very long story ...


LindaH | 499 comments Great. I will use that date (for now) in my events list...


message 21: by LindaH (last edited Oct 17, 2016 11:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

LindaH | 499 comments Order of Events, Actual Dates, Narrator's Age (in progress)

Party for Mary; Feb. 1837*Pickwick Papers, chapter 33; age ?
Party + 4 months MS visits in summer
Mr. Brown's death by railroad
Maj Gordon marries Jessie Brown, child Flora

"many years after this"...long enough for Flora to become reader of Christmas Carol, published Dec. 1843

Deborah dies
MS visits
Mr Holbrook visits, June, Miss Matty not yet 52
MS leaves
MS returns, November
Mr Holbrook dies
Ms Matty reads, burns letters
Betty Barker's tea party, spring evening
T party + 1 day Miss Pole: Lady Glenmire coming!
T party + 2 weeks Mrs J's party
MS leaves
News late in Nov. Signor Brunoni!
MS returns
Signor Brunoni at the George; 1830*Signoir Blitz; age ?
Mrs J goes to Cheltenham
Robberies
Keeping Mrs F's wedding day
6 weeks pass, fears, superstitions
Signora Brunoni: Aga Jenkyns!
Mrs P: Lady G and Mr Hoggins engaged!
MS writes Aga Jenkyns
Fashion show at Mr Johnson's, 2 letters
Miss Matty picks up farmer's bill
Fashion show + 1 day bank stops payment
Secret correspondence, ladies support Miss Matty
Miss Matty opens tea shop
Peter returns


message 22: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda

You make me feel guilty. So much work and detail. Thank you.

Here's hoping that Gaskell was very chatty to all her correspondents between ~1850 to 1853. At best we will find comments about her progress, her problems and other material as it relates to the writing of Cranford. At worst, we will learn that she did not openly discuss too much about her writing while it was in process.

In any case we should find some interesting tid-bits much like Mary and Matty. I will pass them on to you.


LindaH | 499 comments Enjoy spending time in Gaskell's world!


LindaH | 499 comments There is , of course, no date for Capt Brown's death by railroad; he is a fictional character. I wondered, was there a similar accident? I read your link again, Peter, about Huskisson, 1830. I also looked down the list of railroad deaths between 1830 and 1850. There are no attempts to rescue a child leading to death, but three other instances of persons struck interested me. Might Gaskell have been influenced by these as well?

1839 ...female struck by passing train
1846...four men crushed between two moving carriages
1846...11-year old girl struck by buffer of train


LindaH | 499 comments “the most improving reading for Flora” (which I daresay it would have been, if she could have read half the words without spelling, and could have understood the meaning of a third), “better than that strange old book, with the queer name, poor Captain Brown was killed for reading—that book by Mr Boz, you know—‘Old Poz’; when I was a girl—but that’s a long time ago—I acted Lucy in ‘Old Poz.’” She babbled on long enough for Flora to get a good long spell at the “Christmas Carol,” which Miss Matty had left on the table.”

I love this text , Miss Jenkins, sight poor, explaining that Flora is reading Rambler to her.

Flora could be no less than three, but probably five or six.
Christmas Carol pub in Dec 1843.


Everyman | 2507 comments Yeoman work, Linda and Peter!


message 27: by Peter (new)

Peter Everyman wrote: "Yeoman work, Linda and Peter!"

Linda wrote: "There is , of course, no date for Capt Brown's death by railroad; he is a fictional character. I wondered, was there a similar accident? I read your link again, Peter, about Huskisson, 1830. I also..."

It is fascinating to do such research again. I have discovered a few new web sites. Ever forward. As you will have noticed, Linda is the true researcher and organizer.


message 28: by Peter (last edited Oct 16, 2016 04:20PM) (new)

Peter Linda

Capt Browne's death was, I would guess, a plot device that had more than one function. First, it does remove him from the plot, and thus the Amazons of Cranford. His daughters could be seen as minor characters that help develop the plot of how the women of Cranford rally round whenever an issue, significant or insignificant, effects the harmony of the village.

I think that the manner of his death is the significant point. Cranford is a part of England's fading, more gentile past. His death by being struck by a train brings a sharp focus to the new reality of the rapidly encroaching presence of both the Industrial Age and the speed at which it is moving forward. The fact that he was reading brings us to an interesting point. Dickens's PP recounts the rambles and happy bumblings of a group of men who spend their time travelling around by coach to various inns and recounting stories for each other. Could we see a nod here from Gaskell to the old ways of travel, the old ways of social interaction and the old ways of geniality. A bold statement would be that Gaskell has, in Cranford, created a female version of The Pickwick Papers. To me, that is logical and fitting with the old ways in that the older women sat about with their knitting and theirsocializing while the retired older men rambled around to pubs and went on adventures. (There is an entirely new study!) The killing of Brown, a retired man, while reading a book about retired men, by perhaps the central image of the new Industrial Age, is a clear statement of one age fading as a new age arrives.

How great it was that you found references to other railway deaths as well. There is no question in my mind that such a recurrence of deaths would have made a very clear impact on the public. Gaskell, by incorporating this event, would be playing into the minds and memories of the reading audience.

Additionally, in Dickens's Dombey and Son, serialized between 1846-1848, the train is a central image in the book. Dickens writes about how the building of the railway transforms entire neighbourhoods, has the wife of a railway man be the wet nurse for the title's son of Dombey and Son, and then (and I only recalled this after your work on trains ... thank you) has a train hit and kill the villain of the story.

Oh boy! Now I've got some more really neat stuff to think about this morning.


message 29: by Peter (new)

Peter https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dombe...

Here is a link to Dombey and Son


message 30: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda

So many fascinating rabbit holes to fall into!

I have just come across a letter from Gaskell to John Ruskin in 1865 where she writes "the beginning of "Cranford" was one paper in "Household Words" and I never meant to write more, so I killed Capt Brown very much against my will."


LindaH | 499 comments Happy to see Lily's posts restored on the Cranford 5-7 thread! Much to follow and think about. Thanks, Lily.

Here is the link then, referring to Capt Brown/Capt Henry Hill (?) arriving in Cranford/Knutsford in 1836.

http://www.visitcheshire.com/dbimgs/K...

Note. He was visited by Lord Mauleverer, "possibly based on the Duke of Wellington."

This is interesting because Huskisson (famous death by railroad) was distracted by the Duke of Wellington when he was struck by the train. A once-removed association, but perhaps in the mix in Gaskell's mind.

“Please, mum, it is true. I seed it myself,” and he [carter] shuddered at the recollection. “The Captain was a-reading some new book as he was deep in, a-waiting for the down train; and there was a little lass as wanted to come to its mammy, and gave its sister the slip, and came toddling across the line. And he looked up sudden, at the sound of the train coming, and seed the child, and he darted on the line and cotched it up, and his foot slipped, and”...

“The next day a full account of the fatal accident was in the county paper which Miss Jenkyns took in. Her eyes were very weak, she said, and she asked me to read it. When I came to the “gallant gentleman was deeply engaged in the perusal of a number of ‘Pickwick,’ which he had just received,”...

True: Huskisson distracted by Duke of Wellington (arrival of his train, opportunity)
Fiction: Brown distracted by book, then toddler in danger
Fictional actual: Brown distracted by book (opportunity for Gaskell to recall literary debate)


message 32: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda wrote: "Happy to see Lily's posts restored on the Cranford 5-7 thread! Much to follow and think about. Thanks, Lily.

Here is the link then, referring to Capt Brown/Capt Henry Hill (?) arriving in Cranford..."


Linda

This is a fascinating find. I agree with your assessments and speculations. The images on you link gives an added dimension to the commentary.

I have always been of the school that an author's work is never far removed from their own experiences, associations and memories. While these concepts may not have been written down and thus referred to directly, the mind and emotions of the events still reside in the author. Then, with time, thought, creativity, and opportunity many experiences of the past rerun to the surface, re-cast, shaded or even twisted, but there they are, nevertheless, on the page of a novel.


LindaH | 499 comments Agree, Peter, the author's mind is all that. Doing this timeline, which addresses both actual and fictional, is a fun way to consider Gaskell. As for the Knutsford link, we must thank Lily.


LindaH | 499 comments Peter,

I love your description of the symbolic/thematic significance of PP at the moment of impact in Brown's death. A thought:

Dickens changed PP to a different title just before publication. One could say, he didn't honor Gaskell's major lay-down of theme.


Everyman | 2507 comments In the film, which combines several books, the ladies of Cranford very reluctantly but finally bravely take their first railroad journey. I assume this was an episode from one of the other Gaskell books about these characters, though I haven't read them.


LindaH | 499 comments I haven't read them either, Everyman, but I can see why the filmmakers would want to include the railroad.


LindaH | 499 comments "Our Society at Cranford " , now Chapters 1-2, Was published in HW December 13, 1851, intended as a stand alone story. It was a fictionalized version of the nonfiction piece, "The Last G enervation in England " published in 1846. Link to the latter below.


https://www.lang.nagoya-u.ac.jp/~mats...


message 38: by Peter (new)

Peter Linda wrote: ""Our Society at Cranford " , now Chapters 1-2, Was published in HW December 13, 1851, intended as a stand alone story. It was a fictionalized version of the nonfiction piece, "The Last G enervation..."

Hi Linda

It might be my computer but I cannot open the link you provided above.


Bharathi (bharathi14) | 158 comments Wow, Linda and Peter, great work. I have enjoyed all your posts. Like Linda said, I have a lot to think about. Thanks for such fantastic research.


LindaH | 499 comments Peter wrote: "Linda wrote: ""Our Society at Cranford " , now Chapters 1-2, Was published in HW December 13, 1851, intended as a stand alone story. It was a fictionalized version of the nonfiction piece, "The Las..."

I had the same problem on my pc, Peter. Will look into this later.


LindaH | 499 comments Bharathi wrote: "Wow, Linda and Peter, great work. I have enjoyed all your posts. Like Linda said, I have a lot to think about. Thanks for such fantastic research."

Great you are joining the fun, Bharathi!


LindaH | 499 comments Linda wrote: "Order of Events, Actual Dates, Narrator's Age (in progress)

Party for Mary; Feb. 1837*Pickwick Papers, chapter 33; age ?
Party + 4 months MS visits in summer
Mr. Brown's death by railroad
Maj Gord..."



message 43: by Peter (new)

Peter Bharathi wrote: "Wow, Linda and Peter, great work. I have enjoyed all your posts. Like Linda said, I have a lot to think about. Thanks for such fantastic research."

Yes, Bharathi, this little project certainly gets one to look at the novel in different ways. There are so many approaches to any novel, and this is one I have never undertaken.

Stay tuned. I have got a book of Gaskell' s letters and am going through them. Lots to report soon ( and not all specifically linked to the project.).


LindaH | 499 comments http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_La...

Peter, This is the wiki entry. Under external links, there is a link to the article itself. I could not find any dates or ages, but it's interesting that the cow in pjs is in the nonfictional account but no mention of Capt Brown.


message 45: by Peter (last edited Oct 18, 2016 09:37AM) (new)

Peter The first batch of letters come from "Further Letters of Mrs. Gaskell" ed. John Chappell and Alan Shelston" 2000

I will make a more detailed bibliography and end of research into letters from all the books.

There are three letters to Octavian Blewitt (1810-1884) who was Secretary to the Royal Literary Fund (1839-1884). The fund was set up for the relief of needy authors. The first royal patron was the Prince Regent.

The last number of Cranford was published in Household Words 21 May 1853. In this section we have Miss Matty, in debt, setting up a tea shop in her home to augment her income.

Gaskell's three letters to Blewitt are all concerning a Mrs Davenport who lives in Knutsford, Cheshire.

I suggest that Mrs Davenport could well be the inspiration for Miss Matty situation during the period of her financial crisis.

Here are highlights from the first of the letters. This letter is dated June 3 [1850]

"Here sole dependence, a very precarious one, is on a small shop, the rent of which is 8£ a year, and on an annuity of 10£ payable during the pleasure of a relation."
...

"She is now advanced in years". ... "during the past winter [she] has been very insufficiently supplied with either food or firing."

According to the notes from the editors a grant of £30 was awarded.


message 46: by Peter (last edited Oct 18, 2016 09:58AM) (new)

Peter Here is the second of the letters written to Octavian Blewitt. This one is dated March 17 [1852].

"Sir

I take the liberty of requesting that you will bring the case of Mrs. Davenport a second time ...

"The assistance afforded to her by the Literary Fund, two years ago, enabled her to open a small shop, which together with what the two widowed daughters earned by plain sewing yielded for a long time sufficient for their support; but of late, owing to changes beyond their control in the little town where she resides, this resource has utterly failed; and to add to her difficulties, trying enough before, both her daughters, at all times feeble, have fallen ill ...

"The only course which seems open to her is to turn that portion of her small house, which is now occupied as a shop for the sale of tapes thread bobbins &c, into accomodation[sic] for a lodger ...

Note 3 from the editors Chapple and Shelston beneath this letter:

Cp. Cranford, Ch. 15: Miss Matty's success with a shop in the last number of Household Words, published on 21 May 1853. 'Knutsford you know is Cranford, only the people here don't all approve of it being called Cransford." (MA to C.E. Norton, Knutsford, 1 September [1857], Harvard bMS Am1088 3488).


message 47: by Peter (last edited Oct 18, 2016 10:27AM) (new)

Peter Here is the third of the letters written to Octavian Blewitt. This one is dated March 22. [1852].

Sir,

I wrote to you last week on behalf of Mrs Davenport of Knutsford who wished to apply for relief to the Literary Fund: ... . One of her widowed daughters, in very despair of obtaining even food enough for home, took a place in a small tradesman's family as a servant of all work. She had never been accustomed to hard labour, and was not strong when she went to this place; and now the medical man says she is likely to be an invalid for life... . [t]hese two poor women have tried many ways of earning a subsistence; they have a little shop, taken[alternation] in plain sewing, kept a temperance coffee-house, opened a dance-school &c.



From the above three letters it is evident that Gaskell was very aware both of her surroundings and the struggles of many of the town's inhabitants. No doubt, because her husband was a minister, the social issues of the area were also known to the Gaskell household. I think that such awareness is what informs and gives such believability to her writing.

When I read in this third letter and its mention of a coffee-house (along with the editors' comments, of course) it seems reasonable to assume that Mrs. Davenport was, at least, a template for Matty and her financial problems in the novel.


LindaH | 499 comments Peter, This is wonderful stuff...there is much to keep us engaged, weaving everything together. Thanks for your diligent research in the volumes of Gaskell's letters.


message 49: by Peter (last edited Oct 18, 2016 11:26AM) (new)

Peter There is one final letter from Gaskell to Octavian Blewitt. It's tone and brevity suggest (at least to me) a formal request. It's dated April 26th [1854]

It reads as follows:

Mrs Gaskell presents her compliments to Mr Blewitt, and begs to inform him that she has known Mrs Selina Davenport of Knutsford for some years, during which time she has made many efforts to support herself by needlework, keeping a small shop &c, - which have failed, owing to her great age, and infirmity.

Her character has always been very good, as the clergymen of the different parishes in which she has lived, testify. And any grant which the Literary Fund may be inclined to make will be conferred on a deserving old lady, to the best of Mrs Gaskell's belief.


Now, I have a couple of concerns about this letter. The date of the letter is given as April 26th [1854] which puts it almost two years after the third letter in the above post. To me, the form and tone of this letter and Gaskell using the third person ("to the best of Mrs Gaskell's belief to refer to herself suggest this is a support letter, a formal request rather than a more chatty commentary.

Is this yet another, separate request for money? It seems the answer is yes from reading the footnotes that accompany and comment on this specific letter. From the commentary there were two separate responses and support, one in 1855 and yet another in 1856. This date is well after the publication of Cranford.

I confess that I'm out of my depth here in clarifying the information any further; regardless, again there is a mention of "keeping a small shop" and that point helps us line Mrs Davenport up with very possibly being a suggestive influence on Gaskell's creation of Miss Matty.


message 50: by Lily (last edited Oct 18, 2016 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (joy1) | 1289 comments Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford A Publishing History by Thomas Recchio Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford: A Publishing History by Thomas Recchio

Probably of use if one can find a copy. (I haven't checked Amazon used.) At least excerpts can be accessed online by Googling for it. I have read through some of those. Have not found a date to add to our work, but lots of solid background and context information!

See page 47 for some comments on the links to Pickwick Papers. Not sure they match with what we have, but maybe those of you who have been closer to this exercise can untangle that.



(Drumble = Manchester)

(Yes, I'm back to having PC access.)


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