edited by J.A.V. Chapple and Anita Wilson
These two diaries, by the nineteenth-century novelist Elizabeth Gaskell and her cousin Sophia Holland, provide us with uniquely personal and revealing accounts of Victorian womanhood and motherhood. This is the first critical edition of the Gaskell diary and the first ever publication of the Holland diary. The Gaskells were among the first generation of parents to experience the benefits and burdens of an abundance of child-care literature. Both Elizaeth and Sophia reveal themselves here as anxious to be seen as conscientious and well-informed mothers, but as confused as contemporary parents by the conflicting advice to be found within the pages of the so-called 'experts'. As a piece of social history, these diaries documen the challenges, dilemmas and rewards of Victorian parenthood. As a pieceof literature, there is no doubt that, in cultivating the powers of observation to be found in her diary, Elizabeth was laying the foundation for the wider social vision to be found in her novels. Both works have been carefully edited and annotated from their original manuscripts by J A V Chapple and are accompanied by an illuminating introduction by Anita Wilson.