'A poor man I know': Samuel Bamford and the making of Mary Barton

Poole, Robert ORCID logo ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9613-6401 (2008) 'A poor man I know': Samuel Bamford and the making of Mary Barton. The Gaskell Journal, 22 . pp. 96-115.

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Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel Mary Barton has been praised, ever since its publication, for its realistic portrait of working-class life in Manchester during the Chartist years. Yet while Gaskell routinely included real places in her work, she rarely mentioned real people; indeed, she later questioned the “objectionable and indelicate practice” of writing memoirs of living people. “Nobody and nothing was real… in Mary Barton but the character of John Barton; the circumstances are different, but the character and some of the speeches, are exactly a poor man I know.” It is nonetheless possible to identify the originals of several working-class characters in the novel. There is also one explicit reference to a real working man. After the trade unionist John Barton reports the crushing failure of the Chartists’ march on London to petition parliament, the old weaver-naturalist Job Legh relates the story of his own daughter’s lonely death in the capital.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: The Gaskell Journal
Publisher: The Gaskell Society
ISSN: 0951-7200
Departments: Academic Departments > Institute of Arts (IOA) > Humanities
Depositing User: Insight Administrator
Date Deposited: 30 Nov 2010 16:55
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2024 20:30
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/682


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