The Penguin English Library Edition of Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell "The rich know nothing of the trials of the poor; I say, if they don't know, they ought to know. We're their slaves as long as we can work; we pile up their fortunes with the sweat of our brows, and yet we are to live as separate as if we were in two worlds" Mary Barton, the heroine of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, is beautiful but has been born poor. Her father fights for the rights of his fellow workers, but Mary wants to make a better life for them both. She rashly decides to reject her lover Jem, a struggling engineer, in the hope of marrying the rich mill-owner's son Henry Carson and securing a safe future. But when Henry is shot down in the street and Jem becomes the main suspect, Mary finds herself hopelessly torn between them. She also discovers an unpleasant truth - one that could bring tragedy upon everyone, and threatens to destroy her. The Penguin English Library - 100 editions of the best fiction in English, from the eighteenth century and the very first novels to the beginning of the First World War.
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Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) moved from the London of her childhood to Knutsford and later Manchester, and her experience of the differences between North and South deeply informed her writing. Writer of six novels, numerous shorter works and the biography of her great friend Charlotte Brontë, Gaskell was at first published anonymously but later in her own name. Much of her work was serialised in Charles Dickens's widely-read literary weekly, Household Words. Mary Barton was Gaskell's first novel, and deals with many of the great social and political themes that came to be so distinctive of her work. Gaskell's other novels Cranford, North and South and Wives and Daughters are also published in the Penguin English Library.
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