Elizabeth Gaskell House

Elizabeth Gaskell House is in Plymouth Grove, Manchester and was a home of, obviously, Elizabeth Gaskell, the writer, who lived here between 1850 and 1865. After recently reading her book North and South, I thought I should go and see it, so I did.

And here’s the pics:

This is the study of William Gaskell, Elizabeth’s husband, a Unitarian minister, teacher and and all round remarkable person.

The drawing room:

Pictures on the wall in the drawing room. Portrait of Elizabeth on the left, the one on the right you may recognise as fellow Victorian author Charlotte Brontë , who was Elizabeth’s friend. After Charlotte’s death, Elizabeth wrote The Life of Charlotte Brontë, biography of Charlotte on request of Charlotte’s father Patrick Brontë. (My Haworth Parsonage post is here, if interested.)

The dining room:

Table in the dining room where Elizabeth did her writing work:

The contents of the house are not originals. Elizabeth and William had four daughters, two of whom never married and lived here till their death. The last one, Margaret, nicknamed Meta, died in 1913 and after that the house and its contents were sold. Later, the house was used as accommodation for students (Plymouth Grove is not far from the universities), until it was acquired by Manchester Historic Buildings Trust and reconstructed to look as much as possible as how it did during Elizabeth’s life.

The Gaskells used to have a lot of famous visitors, aside from Charlotte Brontë these included Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Dickens and John Ruskin. You look at that nice tea set and think, hmmm, I bet there was a lot of tea spilt!

Here’s the link the Elizabeth Gaskell House website, which has all the info.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s books are all now in public domain so you can read them for free or download them from Gutenberg. I’ve only read North and South so far, it’s her most famous novel and it’s a fantastic story but… on my dears, 19th century literature is… well, 19th century literature. Why use two words when you can use twenty in a sentence, eh? I don’t think I’m ever going to not struggle with it *long sigh*. But in the case of North and South, it’s worth it. The 2004 miniseries is pretty good too and it’s on Netflix, so go check it out. (Also, Richard Armitage as the love interest Mr Thornton, need I say more?)

Have you read any Elizabeth Gaskell? Have you visited the house? Tell me in the comments!

Marple Station

Marple is a small town near Manchester. Its name may remind you of a certain old lady sleuth.

The town’s station embraces it 100%.

There is also this, on the other platform.

The poster lists all the ties Agatha Christie has to the North. I’ve already covered Abney Hall on the blog.

This was the first time ever I visited Marple. I always thought it was a coincidence, but it turns out that Miss Marple’s name was indeed inspired by the town. I actually found out about the posters at the station from the Twitter account Agatha Christie in the North. And I found out about the Twitter account because they followed me after I tweeted something (I think it must have been that Abney Hall post–all my posts are automatically tweeted as soon as they’re published.) So really, it was me being a fan that helped me discover things related to the thing that I’m a fan of!

Although to be fair, I most likely would have gone to Marple at some point anyway.

Of course, I saw more than the train station when I went to Marple–but that’s material for a different post.

Some Writing – A New Blog

I’m pleased to announce a new blog for my writing, called Some Writing.

It’s just some short pieces of fiction (usually flash fiction) I felt should be released to the world. It’s only appropriate to make a post about it here.

I’m looking forward to see what I can come up with. I’m no writer, I may sometimes have an idea or two, that’s all.

This blog will continue with photography.

So I did find Anne of Green Gables in print… and it’s pink

I’ve never seen Anne of Green Gables series in printed format, she said.

She was looking in the wrong section.

The other day I was in Waterstones, an incredibly wonderful UK bookstore, which also sells stationery and other cool silly stuff. While I was paying at the till, for one reason or another (I don’t know where I get the urge to talk to people these days, I never used to be like that), I asked the checkout guy if they ever had Anne of Green Gables in stock. He searched the database and confirmed they did have it–in the children’s 9-12 years section.

You know how much Anne means to me. So yesterday when I was in Waterstones again, I went to check the said section and indeed, there it was. I picked the hardback, because when it comes to physical books, I prefer them to paperbacks.

This is the treasure.

Actually… a few days before I bought it, I was in Paperchase (a mega cool stationery shop) just browsing around and I saw this same edition. They don’t normally sell books, so I thought it was some hipster thing and didn’t pick it up and open it. So when I saw it at Waterstones, I was like, OMG it’s real!

Can I just say… okay, I know nothing about categorising books, but it doesn’t seem right to me to have the Anne series in the children’s section. Little Women gets to be with the classics, yet has a similar theme. Anne is also far more fun, far less patronising, has better characters and the right people end up coupled at the end; as opposed to wrong people marrying the wrong people in Little Women. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered about it, because after all, there is nothing wrong with children’s books, but why can’t it be in both sections at once? I spent ages desperately looking for Anne when I came to UK, in libraries and bookshops. When I couldn’t find any LM Montgomery books here, I concluded that she wasn’t as popular here as in Slovakia (where her books certainly aren’t in the children’s section). I know you think I could have just asked the staff in library or a bookshop, but well, I didn’t. I have social anxiety for one and I hate asking for help and then, I used to feel stupid about liking certain things. Like, nobody cared about Anne anymore after they’d finished all the books and I was the only one who did. Also, I could not have been sure what the book was called in English. Green Gables is translated into “green house” in my language. I don’t think we even have a word for “gable”, Anne’s room in east gable is translated as “east attic room”. Different countries, different architecture styles.

For the inside the book shot, I chose this unforgettable chapter, in which Anne and her friends Diana, Jane and Ruby decide to play out Elaine (I believe it’s the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred Tennyson) in real life and Anne nearly drowns in a pond. After this, she makes a sensible decision to not be romantic again. “It was probably easy enough in towered Camelot hundreds of years ago, but romance is not appreciated now,” she says to Marilla. This however saddens Matthew and he tells her:

Don’t give up all your romance, Anne. A little of it is a good thing–not too much, of course–but keep a little of it, Anne, keep a little of it.

Dear, dear Matthew Cuthbert. We need more like him.

Yorkshire Moors

Out on the wiley, windy moors

So here they are, as promised in my previous post.

These pastures are right beyond the Haworth Parsonage and the church–there are several little paths that lead out on the moors.

I believe Top Withens, carved on the above sign, was Emily Brontë’s original inspiration for the setting of Wuthering Heights.

I wish I could have seen more of the moors, but I had to rush back to town to catch the bus. Yeah, literally I ran on the moors, though for much more practical and much less romantic reason than that I wish I were a girl, half savage and hardy and free. (Well, I am ever an indoors person.)

“Heeeeathcliiiiiiiiiiiiiifffff!!!”


Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

I’ve always had hard time with Wuthering Heights. It was a struggle for me to read it in English (when Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall weren’t) and I don’t like the narrative style, though I can get past that. What really was the problem, as it is probably for many people, was that the book was promoted to me as romance–when it isn’t. It’s a story about revenge and cycles of abuse, as brilliantly explained in this Tumblr post. Once I understood that, I got it. And what I always liked, even before I knew all of this, was the ending and how Catherine the younger and Hareton get together. I have no doubt the first Catherine and Heathcliff loved each other, but they were both awful and hurt everyone around them. Whereas Catherine Jr and Hareton chose kindness in the end and they lived happily ever after. (And let’s not forget, in the 1998 adaptation Hareton is played by Matthew Macfadyen, who went on to play Mr Darcy in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice!)

After seeing the moors with my own eyes, I no longer wonder why Emily Brontë wrote Wuthering Heights. How could she not?

My own video, made by smartphone.

You may have recongised the first line of this post, out on the wiley, windy moors, as the line not from the book, but from the 1978 song by the magnificent Kate Bush. I wonder, could this song be considered a musical version of fanfiction?

Fun fact: Kate Bush and Emily Brontë share the same birthday, 30th July.

And thus concludes my Haworth trilogy.

Haworth Parsonage (and the Brontes)

Following my previous post, here are some pictures of Haworth Parsonage. (And some things I’ve got to say at the end.)

Haworth Parsonage was the home of Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë and is now a museum. It’s mostly unchanged from what it looked like then and contains furniture, clothes and other possessions and artefacts owned by the family. Certainly interesting for any literature lover, but an absolute must for fans of any of the sisters.

St Michael and All Angels Church, where Patrick Brontë was a parson.

The tickets cost £9 for an adult, but can be used for multiple visits within 12 months. The museum also has a little shop that sells their books and souvenirs. They have mugs, notebooks, tote bags, stationery, you know that sort of stuff. I bought myself a fridge magnet with the picture of that famous painting of the three sisters, made by their troublemaker brother Branwell.

I couldn’t help but feel there was an underlying sadness, but that sadness is always there when it comes to the Brontës, isn’t it? They all died so young. I felt such sorrow for Patrick Brontë, who lost his whole family; first his wife to cancer, then all six children one by one. Aside from literature, should another word associated with the Brontës be–tuberculosis? What’s interesting is that Patrick lived to be 84 and for one reason or another, had a strong immunity that was not inherited by his children. Although I wonder. If Charlotte really died from a form of extreme morning sickness, could she have lived longer had she not got pregnant?

The graveyard between the Parsonage and the church.

I want to say a few words about the books now. The ones I’ve read so far are: Jane Eyre by Charlotte, Wuthering Heights by Emily and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne. My favourite out of these? The Tenant of Wildfell Hall! And this is not me being a hipster. It’s because–how could it not be? The real question is, why is it not more popular? Why is Anne known only as the “third Brontë sister”, so much so that Family Guy had a cutaway scene about that?

Charlotte prevented re-publication of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall after Anne’s death because apparently she found it too shocking. Well, it was, but why did Charlotte find it so? This is what she had to say about it: “Wildfell Hall hardly appears to me desirable to preserve. The choice of subject in that work is a mistake, it was too little consonant with the character, tastes and ideas of the gentle, retiring inexperienced writer.” Like, sigh… So because someone is gentle, they can only write… gentle? Do you even fiction, Charlotte? And who are you to decide it was not desirable to preserve and what makes you think the subject of the work is a mistake? Anne didn’t put in the book anything that she hadn’t seen while working as a governess, which included Branwell’s affair with Lydia Robinson, the mistress of the house and mother of the children Anne was a governess to. It’s likely she left her position because of that.

What can you do, Branwell gonna Branwell.

Really, I don’t understand why Charlotte was so easily shocked. She was the oldest. She spent time in Brussels, she had a huge crush on a married man, she worked as a teacher and as a governess, she must have seen things. And then there was the alcohol-prone, opium-addicted, debt-incurring brother. Branwell inspired all three of the sisters to some extent, at least I think I can find him in every book. John Reed in Jane Eyre, Hindley Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights and Arthur Huntingdon in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. All of their work was quite groundbreaking at the time. So why the outrage, Charl?

I found this article about Anne by Lucy Mangan on Guardian, which ends with “I’d like to think her time has come.” I’d like to think so too and that, in the #MeToo era, there’s no better time than now.

#TeamAnne

Link to The Tenant of Wildfell Hall on Gutenberg. Also, hello Netflix, Amazon Prime or whoever, if you’re reading this: we urgently need a new adaptation. Sort it out for us, please.

Next: The Yorkshire moors!

A Saturday Morning

Today’s post is another attempt of mine at still-life photography. It also combines some of the things I like: coffee, croissant, Star Trek, and, well, since I titled it A Saturday Morning, weekend.

If you look closely, if you can see it, you’ll notice the magazine is an April 2018 issue, which would make it a year old. I confess I’ve not actually read any of it, I only bought it because I loved the cover so much. Naomi Campbell and Skepta just look so gorgeous on it. It was the magazine that first gave me an idea of a photoshoot like this, but it took me a whole year to actually do it. For some reason I decided I must have a croissant there and the problem with me and croissants is that anytime I buy some, I have to eat them immediately, so by the time I remembered to take out my camera, they were gone.

I’m quite pleased with how the shot turned out in the end.

International Women’s Day Post

Today is International Women’s Day and here is my International Women’s Day mixed content post.

The Photographs

A Book

A Statement in the City

An Epic Walk by the Ladies of Peaky Blinders

The Quotes

Of course I am not worried about intimidating men. The type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises at every attempt to intimidate me.

Jane Austen

A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.

Coco Chanel

Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.

Mae West

The Song

Anne of Green Gables Photoshoot

If you’ve ever visited my blog, you might have noticed that I’m a fan of Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery. So it only made sense to dedicate a little photoshoot to the red-headed orphan that lived on Prince Edward Island.

I don’t own any of the books in physical format. As I said in my Kindle eBooks post, I have never seen them in print and downloaded them all from Gutenberg. (All of LM Montgomery’s work is in public domain, apart from The Blythes Are Quoted, which was released quite recenly–and which I very much recommend, it will surprise you!)

Well, apart from this very old falling-apart paperback copy that I found in a charity shop.

So for the photoshoot I used the doll of Anne that I got from Etsy and the book Anne of Green Gables Treasury by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christina Wyss Eriksson.

This book is such a delight! It is sort of a companion to the Anne books with lovely illustrations. It describes things from Anne’s time, such as tea parties, handwork, fashion and gardening, plus the timeline. I found out about the book thanks to Pinterest–someone pinned the cover image from a blog post of a reviewer. (Don’t ever tell me Pinterest isn’t useful.)

It wasn’t until I started thinking about it many years later that I realised what a great heroine Anne is. She constantly works to improve herself, she’s a good student and is always there for her friends. Despite being mistreated as an orphaned child, she remains kind (this she has in common with other popular fictional heroes, Jane Eyre and Harry Potter). She finds joy in everything around her and of course, has that famous unbeatable imagination. And not only does she find love with Marilla and Matthew, they learn from her too.

The adaptation with Megan Follows is a classic, but there is a new series on Netflix that started in 2017. I know not everyone likes that one, because it’s so dark, but in my opinion they got it exactly right. If you think about it, there is a lot of darkness in Montgomery’s work. See this excerpt from Anne of Green Gables Chapter 5Anne’s History, in which Anne narrates to Marilla how she was taken in by Mrs Thomas after the deaths of her parents and later lived with Mrs Hammond:

“Were those women—Mrs. Thomas and Mrs. Hammond—good to you?” asked Marilla, looking at Anne out of the corner of her eye.

“O-o-o-h,” faltered Anne. Her sensitive little face suddenly flushed scarlet and embarrassment sat on her brow. “Oh, they meant to be—I know they meant to be just as good and kind as possible. And when people mean to be good to you, you don’t mind very much when they’re not quite—always. They had a good deal to worry them, you know. It’s a very trying to have a drunken husband, you see; and it must be very trying to have twins three times in succession, don’t you think? But I feel sure they meant to be good to me.”

Marilla asked no more questions. Anne gave herself up to a silent rapture over the shore road and Marilla guided the sorrel abstractedly while she pondered deeply. Pity was suddenly stirring in her heart for the child. What a starved, unloved life she had had—a life of drudgery and poverty and neglect; for Marilla was shrewd enough to read between the lines of Anne’s history and divine the truth. No wonder she had been so delighted at the prospect of a real home. It was a pity she had to be sent back. What if she, Marilla, should indulge Matthew’s unaccountable whim and let her stay? He was set on it; and the child seemed a nice, teachable little thing.

In other words, it seems that some kind of child abuse happened. And that is just one example. At the end of Anne of Green Gables, Matthews dies and all their money is lost in a bank crash. It’s not all sunshine and roses. Not to mention people dying from tuberculosis and similar. And not many opportunities for women either.

I read about Lucy Maud’s life and apparently her husband suffered from mental illness and she wasn’t always that well herself. She had a child that was stillborn. I think the showrunners got the look and feel right. And because it’s the current year, they threw in extra LGBT representation and a bit of colour. (Though from what I read, it appears that Prince Edward Island really is that Scottish and that Presbyterian.) Also, the acting is absolute top and the series is worth watching for the scenery alone.

Now, I feel bad for talking about Anne so much when I enjoyed almost everything else LM wrote. Emily of New Moon series is just as good as Anne but my favourite book is The Blue Castle. I wonder if we ever get an adaptation of that one, but I’m not optimistic. It’s a bit like with Arthur Conan Doyle, there has been so many Sherlock Holmeses that people don’t even realise he wrote other books. Sigh

There is something I have to mention when talking about Montgomery’s work, which I think is important. She was, to put it bluntly, kinda racist. There is a short story in Further Chronicles of Avonlea collection titled Tannis of the Flats and it’s awful. Not because of the story–the story is great–but the prejudice, oh dear. It concerns Native Americans and it’s just… bad. That’s all. Yes, I know she lived in a different time and all that, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be acknowledged. So there.

Dear old world, you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.