North and South

North and South Study Guide

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South is often considered one of, if not the best, of her works, as well as a significant piece of Victorian literature. It features a strong female protagonist, a mature love story, and relevant social and political commentary regarding industrialization and class antagonisms present in mid-19th century England. The fictional industrial town of Milton was based on Manchester, where Gaskell lived with her family.

North and South was published in weekly installments in Household Words, the magazine edited by Charles Dickens, from September 2nd, 1854 to January 27th, 1855. The novel was originally to be titled Margaret Hale, but was changed at the suggestion of Dickens. It thus calls greater attention to the disparities between the North and the South, which was a common subject in the discourse of the day. Dickens also wanted the section on Mr. Hale and his religious doubts trimmed. This and other suggestions on reshaping and altering for serialization annoyed Gaskell and damaged the pair's cordial working relationship.

The first edition in book form was published by Chapman and Hall in 1855.

There have been two miniseries produced by the BBC. The 1975 version was by the Midlands playwright David Turner, and the 2004 adaptation was by Sandy Welch.