Elizabeth Gaskell

On 25th September 2010 a memorial to Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, novelist and biographer, was dedicated in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. It takes the form of a panel in the Hubbard memorial window, above Chaucer's tomb, which also includes memorials to Alexander Pope, Robert Herrick, A.E. Housman, Frances Burney, Oscar Wilde and Christopher Marlowe. The window was designed by Graham Jones. The inscription just gives her name and dates:

1810 Elizabeth Gaskell 1865

The panel was dedicated by her great-great-granddaughter Rosemary Dabbs and a wreath was laid. The address was given by Jenny Uglow, Vice-President of the Gaskell Society, and Elizabeth Williams, Chairman of the Society, read a lesson. 

Elizabeth Stevenson was born on 29th September 1810 in Chelsea in London, daughter of William and his wife Elizabeth (Holland). After her mother's death she spent her childhood in Knutsford in Cheshire, living with her aunt Hannah Lumb. The area formed a basis for her popular novel Cranford. In Manchester in 1831 she was introduced to William Gaskell, Assistant Minister at Cross Street Unitarian Chapel. After their marriage in 1832 Manchester became their family home. The house at 84 Plymouth Grove, Longsight, was occupied by the Gaskell family until 1913 and is now undergoing restoration.

Their daughters were Marianne, Margaret, Florence and Julia but their son William died in infancy. Her varied writings include North and South, Mary Barton and Wives and Daughters. Her friend Charles Dickens helped to make her writings more well known when he published them in his magazine Household Words. She died of a heart attack on 12th November 1865 and was buried at Brook Street chapel cemetery in Knutsford.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Gaskell Society

Order of Service from Window Dedication service - 25th September 2010

The white vellum, partially transparent binding, on a 1904 edition of Cranford is by Cedric Chivers in the Westminster Abbey Library collection.


29th September 1810


12th November 1865


25th September 2010


Writer; novelist


South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


Material Type


Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell memorial window

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Elizabeth Gaskell
Cranford, 1904 edition, with white vellum binding

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster