Cranford depicts the lives and preoccupations of the inhabitants of a small village -- their petty snobberies and appetite for gossip, and their loyal support for each other in times of need. The village is dominated by women, from the kindly spinster Miss Matty, living in genteel poverty with her redoubtable sister, to Lady Glenmire, who shocks everyone by marrying the doctor. When men do appear, such as 'modern' Captain Brown or Matty's suitor from the past, they bring disruption and excitement to the everyday life of Cranford. This volume includes the novella Cousin Phillis, which depicts a fleeting love affair in a rural community at a time when old values are being supplanted by the new. Both works are exquisitely observed tragicomedies of human nature, told with great delicacy and affection.
Elizabeth Gaskell was born in 1810. in 1832 she married the Reverend William Gaskell and spent her time working among the poor and writing. Her first novel, Mary Barton received critical acclaim and she began to contribute to Household Works. She continued to write until her death in 1865.