Elizabeth Gaskell has long been one of the most popular of Victorian novelists, yet in her lifetime her shorter fictions were equally well loved, and they are among the most accomplished examples of the genre. The heart of this collection is Gaskell's novella Cousin Phillis, a lyrical masterpiece that depicts a vanishing way of life and a girl's disappointment in love: deceptively simple, its undercurrent of feeling leaves an indelible impression. The other five stories in this selection range from a quietly original tale of urban poverty and a fallen woman to an historical tale in which echoes of the French Revolution, the bleakness of winter in Westmorland, and a tragic secret are brought vividly to life. Heather Glen's illuminating introduction is the first to offer extended consideration of Gaskell as a writer of short stories, discussing Gaskell's pre-eminent role in developing the genre and setting each story in the context of their original periodical publication. The volume includes a chronology, bibliography, and invaluable notes.
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