'Such whispered tales, such old temptations and hauntings, and devilish terrors'
Elizabeth Gaskell's chilling Gothic tales blend the real and the supernatural to eerie, compelling effect. 'Disappearances', inspired by local legends of mysterious vanishings, mixes gossip and fact; 'Lois the Witch', a novella based on an account of the Salem witch hunts, shows how sexual desire and jealousy lead to hysteria; while in 'The Old Nurse's Story' a mysterious child roams the freezing Northumberland moors. Whether darkly surreal, such as 'The Poor Clare', where an evil doppelganger is formed by a woman's bitter curse, or mischievous like 'Curious, if True', a playful reworking of fairy tales, all the pieces in this volume form a start contrast to the social realism of Gaskell's novels, revealing a darker and more unsettling style of writing.
Laura Kranzler's introduction discusses how Gaskell's tales, with their ghostly doublings and transgressive passions, show the Gothic underside of female identity, domestic relations and male authority. This edition also contains a chronology, further reading and explanatory notes.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson (1810-1865), often referred to simply as Mrs Gaskell, was a British novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature. Gaskell was also the first to write a biography of Charlotte Bronte, The Life of Charlotte Bronte, which was published in 1857.