Mary Barton
  • Publication Date: March 21, 2000
  • ISBN: 9781551111698 / 1551111691
  • 590 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Mary Barton

  • Publication Date: March 21, 2000
  • ISBN: 9781551111698 / 1551111691
  • 590 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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

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 on Industrialization

  1. Thomas Carlyle, Chapter I, Chartism (1840)
  2. “Emigration—Report of the Poor-Law Commissioners on the Subject,” Chambers’ Edinburgh Journal (15 February 1840)
  3. Joseph Adshead, Distress in Manchester. Evidence (Tabular and Otherwise) of the State of the Labouring Classes in 1840-42 (1842)
  4. Leon Faucher, Manchester in 1844: Its Present
    Condition and Future Prospects
  5. Ralph Barnes Grindrod, The Slaves of the Needle(1844)
  6. Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845)
  7. Charles Kingsley, Appeal to the Chartists (12 April 1848)
  8. Caroline Norton, Letters to the Mob (1848)
  9. Morning Chronicle (Thursday, 1 November 1849)
  10. William Rathbone Greg, Employers and Employed (1853)

Appendix D:
Related Fiction and Poetry

  1. Thomas Hood, “Song of the Shirt” (1843)
  2. Charlotte Brontë, Chapters 8 and 19, Shirley (1849)
  3. Charles Dickens, Chapter 4, Hard Times (1854)
  4. George Eliot, Chapter 31, Felix Holt (1866)

Appendix E:
Chartism and Free Trade

Select Bibliography

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