The book tells the story of Margaret Hale, who is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England after her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience.
Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice.
This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.
In “North and South”, Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.
It is one of her best-known novels and was adapted for television three times in 1966, 1975 and 2004. The 2004 version renewed interest in the novel and attracted a wider readership.
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, often referred to simply as Mrs. Gaskell, was an English novelist and short-story writer during the Victorian era.
She is perhaps best known for her biography of Charlotte Bronte. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of society, including the very poor, and as such are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature.