Novel Ideas

Suspending Suspense


Don’t despair, dear Reader! Novel Ideas hasn’t abandoned you, and will soon be back on track.

Dear Reader,

No, it’s not a ruse – you’re actually in the presence of a new Novel Ideas post!  The editors and I would be morally remiss if we refused to accept responsibility for any psychological distress you undoubtedly endured as a result of this extended communication hiatus.  What’s more, this gap renders our most recent Modest Entreaty for a livelier, interactive readership an ideal candidate for the Catch-22 Hall of Fame.  We extend our sincerest apologies for these inconsistencies, and ask for your continued patience as the editors negotiate their new non-virtual scholarly responsibilities at The Ohio State University.  Not to worry:  they will soon return to the blogosphere with full vigor and bring with them a freshly minted set of monthly articles for your intellectual pleasure.  Although we ultimately must suspend your suspense by asking that you wait for further major Novel Ideas updates, please accept the remainder of this post as a stopgap compensatory gesture – and as a combatant against Long-Nineteenth-Century Withdrawal Syndrome (a newly recognized DSM-IV condition).

HRH Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, literary genius and ardent Novel Ideas enthusiast

A few weeks ago the Novel Ideas Facebook fan page announced that September 29 marked the 201st birthday of the incomparable Victorian literary sage Elizabeth Gaskell.   In belated celebration of this most joyous occasion, I have compiled an abbreviated list of links dedicated to the glories of Gaskelliana that will appeal to the inner Gaskellian within everyone (And yes, believe it or not, both “Gaskelliana” and “Gaskellian” are real terms.).  Please note that most descriptions come from the literature on the linked sites:

The Gaskell Society aims to promote and encourage the study and appreciation of the work and life of Elizabeth Gaskell; to record sources of information about the work of Elizabeth Gaskell and any other material relating to her life, family, work, and memory; to foster and stimulate an understanding of her work and life by other means; to arrange visits to places associated with her or her books; to encourage republication of her work; to promote and support special projects relating to her life and work at suitable times; and to co-operate with other societies having an interest in Elizabeth Gaskell and her times.

The Elizabeth Gaskell House is a detached villa, retaining some of its original large garden space.  It was built about 1838 when Plymouth Grove was on the outskirts of Manchester.  It has beautiful reception rooms on the ground floor, with their original doors, shutters, and plasterwork.  Upstairs are the large airy bedrooms and below the very spacious domestic quarters (without any of their original fittings).  When the house is restored it will tell its own story – not only the story of Elizabeth Gaskell, her books, her family, and the many leading nineteenth-century literary figures who were their guests, but also the history of the varied communities who have lived along Plymouth Grove since it was first developed.  (Corresponding Facebook fan page here.)

Novel Ideas editor Emily Cody holding up a copy of "Lois the Witch" in front of the Salem Witch Museum. Elizabeth Gaskell, at long last, you've made it to Salem!

Gaskell Blog explores Elizabeth Gaskell’s work, life, and the society of the Victorian era.  The author founded the project in September 2010 in honor of Gaskell’s bicentenary.  The blog aims to collaborate with other Gaskell enthusiasts and to introduce more people to her writing.

And last but certainly not least, I suggest complementing your regularly scheduled ghoulish activities for this month with a reading of Gaskell’s 1861 novella “Lois the Witch,” a literary adaptation of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692.1  This long-nineteenth-century blog publicist cannot imagine a more suitable way to commemorate the life of this particular Victorian literary muse and to usher in the upcoming bewitching season.

Until next time, dear Reader – Happy Halloween from Novel Ideas!

Anachronistically yours,

Sassy Jane, Novel Ideas Publicist

1.  A History Channel documentary for the avid Salem Witch Trials aficionado: