Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in 1810 and lived at 84 Plymouth Grove with her family from 1850 until her death in 1865.
“To begin with the old rigmarole of childhood…”
Wives and Daughters
She was born as Elizabeth Cleghorn Stevenson in London in 1810. A year later, on the death of her mother, she was taken to live in Knutsford, Cheshire, with her aunt, Hannah Lumb. The arrangement was a happy one – she was to refer to her aunt as “my more than mother” and was to use Knutsford as the inspiration for her fictitious town of Cranford. Knutsford also became ‘Hollingford’ in Wives and Daughters.
In 1832 Elizabeth married William Gaskell, the assistant minister at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel in Manchester. Their third home was a large house near open fields - 42 (now 84) Plymouth Grove. Here they grew flowers and vegetables, and kept a cow, pigs and poultry. The House was always bustling and the family entertained a stream of visitors, including many eminent people. Gaskell connections included such people as the Wedgwoods, the Darwins and the Nightingales, but girls from the Sunday School also came to the house regularly, as did William’s students and fellow clergy.