Elizabeth Gaskell 1851
portrait by George Richmond
Elizabeth Gaskell was a writer and friend of Charles Dickens.  She wrote for his journal, Household Words.

In 1855's North & South (one of those novels you can read again and again), Gaskell has set her story in both the North and South of England... and the setting steals the show.

The South is a place of countrysides, gentry, gardens and church-based morality.  The North is a place of urban proximities, industry, hard conditions and business ethics.

Throughout the story, a young woman from the South is first accosted by and then eventually enticed by the ways of the North.  It is a story of modernity.

"North and South" Illustration by
George Du Maurier, engraved by
Joseph Swain.
Image via Wikimedia Commons

...and to eat it, too.

As modern people, we want both!

Prosperity and leisure.  
Urbus and countryside.  
Practicality and inspiration.  
Manmade cities and Godmade nature.  
Sophistication and an unaffected manner.  
Education and following the gut.  
Books/culture and money/smoke.   
Mercy and justice.  
Tradition and progress.  
Luck and hard work.   
Heart and “having a bit of spirit.”

Even as a kid, I used to dream one day of a having a place in the country and a place in the city.  I wish that for my kids now, to be able to experience both and appreciate the energies of both.  Urgency and peace.

Watch It

I highly recommend the read, but there's also an excellent 2004 BBC adaptation for film with Richard Armitage (a.k.a Thorin Oakensheild) & Brendan Coyle (a.k.a. Mr. Bates).  You can stream it on Netflix or Amazon.


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