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Mary Barton 

Mary Barton

Written by: Elizabeth Gaskell
Edited by: Jennifer Foster

Series: Broadview Editions
1st Edition

Publication Date: March 03, 2000
590pp • Paperback / PDF / ePub
ISBN: 9781551111698 / 1551111691
Volume: 0

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Mary Barton first appeared in 1848, and has since become one of the best known novels on the 'condition of England,' part of a nineteenth-century British trend to understand the enormous cultural, economic and social changes wrought by industrialization. Gaskell's work had great importance to the labour and reform movements, and it influenced writers such as Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle and Charlotte Brontë.

The plot of Mary Barton concerns the poverty and desperation of England's industrial workers. Fundamentally, however, it revolves around Mary's personal conflicts. She is already divided between an affection for an industrialist's son, Henry Carson, and for a man of her own class, Jem Wilson. But Mary's conflict escalates when her father, a committed trade unionist, is asked to assassinate Henry, who is the son of his unjust employer.


"Another splendid edition from Broadview with the usual high standard of helpful footnotes. Among the appendices in this volume are Gaskell's letters about writing the novel; contemporary reviews; essays and reports from the 1840s on industrialization, Chartism, emigration, prostitution and conditions in Manchester; brief selections from related fiction and poetry; and a very intelligible short summary of dates and events that shape the novel's politics." - Sally Mitchell, Temple University

Jennifer Foster
, a doctoral candidate at the University of Ottawa, is a professional writer and editor who has written on nineteenth-century British literature.

Table of Contents: [Back to Top]



Elizabeth Gaskell: A Brief Chronology

A Note on the Text

Mary Barton

Appendix A: The Composition of the Novel

  1. Excerpts from Gaskell's Letters
  2. Parable of Dives and Lazarus

Appendix B: Contemporary Reviews of the Novel

  1. Athenaeum (21 October 1848)
  2. Examiner (4 November 1848)
  3. Christian Examiner (March 1849)
  4. Edinburgh Review (April 1849)
  5. Fraser's Magazine (April 1849)

Appendix C: Social Commentary about Industrialization

  1. Carlyle, Chartism
  2. Leon Faucher, Manchester in 1844
  3. Ralph Barnes Grindrod, The Slaves of the Needle
  4. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England
  5. Kingsley, Appeal to the Chartists
  6. Norton, Letters to the Mob

Appendix D: Related Fiction and Poetry

  1. Brontë, Shirley
  2. Dickens, Hard Times
  3. Eliot, Felix Holt

Appendix E: Chartism and Free Trade

Select Bibliography

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Mary Barton

2000 • 590pp • Paperback • 9781551111698 / 1551111691

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Broadview Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, and also acknowledges the support of the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Freehand Books, an imprint of Broadview, acknowledges the support of the Canadian Council of the Arts.