Sunday, June 23, 2013
Mrs Gaskell's earthly paradise
I have just put the finishing touches to my latest literary collage and here's a snap of it:
A bit dark, I know, but I can't get it professionally scanned for a week or two.
Number 42 Plymouth Grove occupied (and for all I know still does) what is commonly called a leafy suburb of Manchester, well away from the dark satanic mills of the industrial revolution. But leafy suburbs - and Italianate villas like this one - are metaphorically built upon those mills and factories and they are very much present in the writings of Mrs Gaskell. Her husband, a Unitarian minister, was involved with the manufacturing poor as well. So the mills are there, diorama-like, prominently in the background.
As is the livestock which Mr and Mrs G kept in their garden which served the double purpose of providing food and "bringing some countryside to the town".
One of the Gaskells' friends and neighbours, the conductor Charles Halle, described the place as "a large, cheerful, airy house, quite out of the Manchester smoke ..." a description I have tried to convey in the image.
And there's Charlotte Bronte downstairs, famously hiding behind the curtains from visitors. Couldn't miss the opportunity of putting her into the picture could I?