In the first months of lockdown 1 in 2020, a call went out in Curatorial Practices for suggestions of digitised material which could be transferred to our new image viewer, Manchester Digital Collections (MDC).
My first thought was a collection of letters from Charles Dickens to Elizabeth Gaskell. I receive numerous enquiries about these letters, so much so that I’d requested their digitisation the previous year to facilitate access to them. They’re predominantly about Dickens’ role as Gaskell’s editor, and the work that she published in his weekly magazine, Household Words. Gaskell was a regular contributor from 1850, and Dickens was the first to publish her novels North and South and Cranford in the magazine in serial form.
I remembered that there was additional pre-digitised Gaskellania, in the form of four manuscripts, and also two manuscripts by Dickens, and the Gaskell Dickens collection was born, uniting two of the most important novelists of the 19th century.
The collection brings together for the first time material from disparate collections: our English manuscripts collection, University manuscripts collection and the papers of Elizabeth Gaskell.
English MS 725 (iii) – Charles Dickens Shorthand Manuscript;
English MS 729 – letters from Charles Dickens to Elizabeth Gaskell;
English MS 876 – manuscript of ‘The Grey Woman’ by Elizabeth Gaskell;
English MS 877 – manuscript of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (2 volumes);
University MS – manuscript of The Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell (2 volumes);
University MS – manuscript of The Crooked Branch by Elizabeth Gaskell
MDC collections are produced in collaboration by curators, the Imaging team, the Digital Technologies team, and the Collection Management team.
This material doesn’t represent the totality of our holdings relating to Gaskell and Dickens, and additional information on the collections can be found in our collection catalogues.
The Elizabeth Gaskell and Charles Dickens MDC collection can be accessed here.