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Treasured household names, including Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton and Julia McKenzie, brought Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford to life in one of the best-loved classic dramas of all time. This celebratory omnibus edition includes the classic vel of the same name, a comic portrait of the lives of Cranford's genteel female inhabitants, as well as a vella and a short story. Both of these, The Moorland Cottage and The Cage at Cranford, feature in the Cranford two-part Special due to be screened on BBC television over Christmas 2009. These poignant portraits of early Victorian country village life deserve to be read and re-read.
Elizabeth Stevenson was born in London in 1810. In 1832 she married the minister William Gaskell and moved to Manchester. The death of her only son inspired her to write her first novel, Mary Barton, which was published anonymously in 1848. Dickens invited her to contribute to his magazine Household Words where her Cranford stories appeared from 1851 to 1853. She also wrote the novels Ruth, North and South and Sylvia's Lovers, and the famous biography, The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Elizabeth Gaskell died in 1865, leaving her final work Wives and Daughters incomplete.