Teacher Guide

North and South Lesson Plan

Introduction to North and South

North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell’s third novel, was first published serially in Charles Dickens’s Household Words magazine. Dickens and Gaskell enjoyed a fruitful professional relationship--he called her his “dear Scheherazade”--yet North and South, now considered Gaskell’s most mature novel, was initially met with a tepid reception. Dickens himself called the novel “wearisome” and blamed it for Household Words’s declining sales.

In particular, Dickens took issue with some of the lengthy passages in which the main characters--the southern, genteel Margaret and the northern, mercantile Mr. Thornton--debate contemporary class structures. Dickens had reason to be uneasy; though the “...

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