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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $15.00
  • May 2008
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-93063-4
  • 672 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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Mary Barton

Norton Critical Editions


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Elizabeth Gaskell (Author), Thomas Recchio (Editor, University of Connecticut)


Elizabeth Gaskell, one of the nineteenth century’s most significant novelists, was widely held to be the social conscience of Great Britain during the Industrial Revolution.

This Norton Critical Edition of Gaskell’s first novel is based on the 1854 Fifth Edition, the last edition corrected by the author.

“Contexts” includes letters related to Mary Barton’s publication as well as Gaskell’s reaction to her harshest critics. Ten contemporary reviews reflect the dual nature of the novel’s critical reception: one group valuing its eye-opening moral energy and concern for the suffering of the working classes and the other group taking Gaskell to task for the deceptive implications of her perceived flawed reasoning. A section featuring fifteen illustrations from the novel offers readers the opportunity to explore narrative emphases.

“Criticism” collects seventeen major interpretations of the novel’s central themes. Contributors include Kathleen Tillotson, Richard D. Altick, John Lucas, Catherine Gallagher, Hilary Schor, Deborah Epstein, Susan Zlotnick, Jonathan H. Grossman, and Liam Corley, among others.

A Chronology of Gaskell’s life and work and a Selected Bibliography are also included.




    A Note on the Text

    The Text of Mary Barton


    1. John Geoffrey Sharps • The Genesis of Mary Barton


    1. Elizabeth Gaskell • From Letters
    2. Thomas Carlyle • Letter to Mrs. Gaskell (November 8, 1848)
    3. Maria Edgeworth • Letter to Miss Holland (December 27, 1848)
    4. Samuel Bamford • To the Authoress of “Mary Barton” (March 9, 1849)


    1. Henry Fothergill Chorlay • Athenaeum (October 21, 1848)
    2. Manchester Literary Times • From Unsigned Review (October 28, 1848)
    3. John Forster • Examiner (November 4, 1848)
    4. British Quarterly • From Unsigned Review (February 1849)
    5. Prospective Review • From Unsigned Review (February 1849)
    6. Charles Kingsley • Fraser’s Magazine (April 1849)
    7. W. R. Greg • From Edinburgh Review (April 1849)
    8. Elizabeth Gaskell • Libbie Marsh’s Three Eras
    9. Friedrich Engels • Results of Industrialisation
    10. Leon M. Faucher • From Manchester in 1844: Its Present Condition and Future Prospects
    11. Anonymous • The Mutual Dependence of Men in a Social State
    12. Dion Boucicault • The Long Strike: A Drama in Four Acts


    1. Mary and her father.
    2. “ ‘Child, we must be all to one another, now she is gone.’ ”
    3. “‘You won’t even say you’ll try and like me; will you, Mary?’ ”
    4. “Ben bustled about with the square bottle of Golden Wasser in one of his hands and a small tumbler in the other.”
    5. “The door opened and in bounded Amy.”
    6. “An old-fashioned saying about a pair of gloves came into Jem’s mind.”
    7. “ ‘It’s Jem Wilson and his father.’ ”
    8. “An instant afterwards he lay stretched in the muddy road.”
    9. “ ‘O lad, hunger is nothing—nothing!’ ”
    10. “ ‘What do you want?’ she asked wearily.”
    11. “ ‘O Jem! Take me home.’ ”
    12. “ ‘Oh, Mother! Mother, are you really dead?’ ”
    13. Mary Barton
    14. “ ‘I’m come to say good-bye.’ ”
    15. “There sat her father still and motionless.”


    1. Kathleen Tillotson • [“The Gentle Humanities of Earth”]
    2. Raymond Williams • [Structure of Feeling in Mary Barton]
    3. Richard D. Altick • Dion Boucicault Stages Mary Barton
    4. Graham Handley • Mrs. Gaskell’s Reading: Some Notes on Echoes and Epigraphs in Mary Barton
    5. John Lucas • [Carson’s Murder and the Inadequacy of Hope in Mary Barton]
    6. John Lucas • [Why We Need Mary Barton]
    7. Rosemarie Bodenheimer • Private Grief and Public Acts in Mary Barton
    8. Catherine Gallagher • Causality versus Conscience: The Problem of Form in Mary Barton
    9. Patsy Stoneman • [The Feminization of Working-Class Men in Mary Barton]
    10. Hilary M. Schor • [Maternal Authority in Mary Barton]
    11. Deborah Epstein Nord • [Class Antagonism and the Sexual Plot in Mary Barton]
    12. Josephine M. Guy • [Morality and Economics in Mary Barton]
    13. Deirdre d’Albertis • [The Streetwalker and Urban Observations in Mary Barton]
    14. Susan Zlotnick • The Curse of Leisure: Unemployment in Mary Barton
    15. Jonathan H. Grossman • [Trial, Alibi, and the Novel as Witness]
    16. Amy Mae King • Taxonomical Cures: The Politics of Natural History and Herbalist Medicine in Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton
    17. Liam Corley • The Imperial Addiction of Mary Barton

    Elizabeth Gaskell: A Chronology

    Selected Bibliography