Elizabeth Gaskell’s “Cranford”

by Andrew Stein

Ursula loves to read and her library illustrates this well. Within minutes of arriving on the farm she is excited to have Katherine read her favorite book, “Cranford” by Elizabeth Gaskell. Although Katherine does not make it too far into the book, we are intrigued by the first couple pages of the book and how they might reflect on life on a farm. The first couple sentences of the book read:

“In the first place, Cranford is in possession of the Amazons; all the holders of houses above a certain rent are women. If a married couple comes to settle in the town, showhow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in busienss all the week in the great neighboring commercial town of Drumble, distance only twenty miles on a railroad.”

Then to elaborate more on the same theme, a couple pages later, we read:

“A man, as one of them observed to me once, is so in the way in the house!”