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Mary Barton (1848)

by Elizabeth Gaskell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,242544,797 (3.67)1 / 210
This is Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel, a widely acclaimed work based on the actual murder, in 1831, of a progressive mill owner. It follows Mary Barton, daughter of a man implicated in the murder, through her adolescence, when she suffers the advances of the mill owner, and later through love and marriage. Set in Manchester, between 1837-42, it paints a powerful and moving picture of working-class life in Victorian England.… (more)
  1. 20
    Emma by Jane Austen (kara.shamy)
    kara.shamy: In some ways the heroines in these two novels are alike, but they are very different in other respects, and more strikingly, their respective journeys to the altar/married life go in diametrically opposite ways, in a sense! Both are true classics in my estimation; reading these two novels exposes the reader to two of the greatest English-language novelists of all time in the height of their respective powers. While all readers and critics do not and will not share this superlative view, few would dispute these are two early female masters of the form and are well worth a read on that humbler basis ;) Enjoy!… (more)
  2. 10
    How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (charlie68)
    charlie68: Both novels portray clashes between management and workers and there sometimes tragic consequences.
  3. 10
    Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (kara.shamy)
  4. 00
    North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (Cecrow)
  5. 00
    Shirley by Charlotte Brontë (MissBrangwen)
  6. 00
    Nice Work by David Lodge (KayCliff)
  7. 00
    A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings (Penguin Classics) by Charles Dickens (charlie68)
    charlie68: The character's of John Barton and Ebenezer Scrooge compliment each other.

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Death and poverty and socialism, oh my!

I think Elizabeth Gaskell just made it onto my favorite authors list. This is another amazing novel where she seamlessly weaves a romantic subplot among the more serious issues of the day: workers rights, strikes, and union busting. ( )
  LynnK. | Aug 4, 2020 |
I enjoyed this depiction of the life of a factory girl in Manchester in the mid 19th century. It portrayed all classes of society, and clearly depicted the travails of the working class, and the privileges of the factory owner. Mary was a lovely character, developing from a naive young girl to a self-sufficient woman. I can't put my finger on why, but I didn't enjoy this quite as much as I generally enjoy books by George Eliot or Charles Dickens. This is only the second work by Elizabeth Gaskell I have read, and it is her first novel, so I hope to read more by her, as I have a few more of her books on my Kindle. Still, a worthwhile read.

3 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Jun 24, 2020 |
Set in mid-1800s industrial Manchester, the story is both a romance and a political commentary on the working classes vs. the wealthy owners of industry. Where the two parts of the tale meet, the potential for tragedy lives.
So much bleaker than Cranford, and therefore not quite as enjoyable for me, but still an interesting and groundbreaking novel. ( )
  electrascaife | Apr 1, 2020 |
Somewhat heavy-handed, but I can't say that I blame her for it. Class divisions are something that people still don't seem to see beyond. ( )
  slmr4242 | Oct 16, 2019 |
Essential elements are all present for a good melodrama, namely, a murder, love misunderstood, moral dilemmas, last minute repentance and salvation. Yep, it is all happening in Manchester, England in the 1840s. Abject poverty is juxtaposed with wealthy factory owners' lives of luxury (ringing any bells?), and unions just beginning to seek ways to equalize the two classes to a greater degree. Our Mary Barton, with heart bgg of gold, is dead center to all of it. This is the author's debut novel. Her growth can certainly be seen if you read the marvelous "North and South". So, if you enjoy a good period piece and some melodrama, you will thoroughly enjoy this. ( )
  hemlokgang | Aug 12, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaskell, Elizabethprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Daly, MacdonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lane, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ollerenshaw, MaggieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stevenson, JulietNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strimban, JackCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strimban, RobertCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Uglow, JennyIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, EdgarEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
There are some fields near Manchester, well known to the inhabitants as 'Green Heys Fields,' through which runs a public footpath to a little village about two miles distant.
Mary Barton owes its inception to very personal events, hinted at in the first sentence of the Preface ('circumstances that need not be more fully alluded to'). (Introduction)
Three years ago I became anxious (from circumstances that need not be more fully alluded to) to employ myself in writing a work of fiction. (Preface)
Oh Mary! many a hasty word comes sorely back on the heart, when one thinks one shall never see the person whom one has grieved again!
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The story is set in the English city of Manchester during the 1830s and 1840s and deals heavily with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class.
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Average: (3.67)
1 7
2 17
2.5 9
3 86
3.5 37
4 137
4.5 11
5 50

Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 014043464X, 0141039388, 0141199725

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