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James Cranford (1603—1657) Church of England clergyman

William Cranford (c. 1570—1645) composer


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A novel by Mrs Gaskell, published serially in Household Words, 1851–3.

Cranford, a series of linked sketches of life among the ladies of a quiet country village in the 1830s, is based on Knutsford in Cheshire where Mrs Gaskell spent her childhood. It centres on the formidable Miss Deborah Jenkyns and her gentle sister Miss Matty, daughters of the former rector. Moments of drama are provided by the death of the genial Captain Brown, run over by a train when saving the life of a child; by the panic caused in the village by rumours of burglars; by the surprising marriage of the widowed Lady Glenmire with the vulgar Mr Hoggins, the village surgeon; by the failure of a bank which ruins Miss Matty, and her rescue by the fortunate return from India of her long‐lost brother Peter. But the greatest charm of Cranford, which has kept it unfailingly popular, is its amused but loving portrayal of the old‐fashioned customs and ‘elegant economy’ of a delicately observed group of middle‐aged figures in a landscape.

Subjects: Literature.

Reference entries

Elizabeth Gaskell (1810—1865) novelist and short-story writer