North and South is a social novel by English writer Elizabeth Gaskell. Along with Wives and Daughters (1865) and Cranford (1853), it is one of her best known novels and has been adapted for television twice, in 1975 and 2004. The latter version renewed interest in the novel and gained it a wider audience.
Whereas Gaskell's first novel Mary Barton (1848) views relations between employers and workers from the perspective of the working poor, North and South is more balanced, focusing as well on the thinking of the employers.
North and South is set in the fictional industrial town of Milton in the North of England. Forced to leave her home in the tranquil rural south, Margaret Hale settles with her parents in Milton where she witnesses the brutal world wrought by the industrial revolution and employers and workers clashing in the first organised strikes. Sympathetic to the poor whose courage and tenacity she admires and among whom she makes friends, she clashes with John Thornton, a cotton mill manufacturer who belongs to the nouveaux riches and whose contemptuous attitude to workers Margaret despises.
Gaskell based Milton on Manchester, where she lived as the wife of a Unitarian minister.