It was a great pleasure to be part of the Elizabeth Gaskell bicentenary celebrations that took place last weekend at York Unitarian Chapel – a fitting place for such events, given Gaskell’s Unitarian connections.
Inspired by Gaskell’s novel Wives and Daughters, I devised a special Buzzing! show, which interspersed natural history quotes from the novel with my poems and photos about the creatures mentioned, including bees, wasps and bluebottles. One of the characters in Wives and Daughters – Roger Hamley – bears a resemblance to Gaskell’s cousin, Charles Darwin, in his love of natural history. Having put on special Buzzing! shows last year for Darwin’s bicentenary, it seemed fitting to follow these with Gaskell versions too.
Thank you to David Hammond for providing beautiful musical interludes on the piano, and to Adrian Lovett for reading the Gaskell quotations. Also to Hugh Dower, whose dramatic monologue on The Origins of Gaskell’s Evolutionary Characters provided the second half of our ‘Evening of Natural History’.
A big thank you too to Anne Hutchison for all the work she has put into organising these celebrations. Anne’s ‘Molly Gibson’s Sketchbook‘ exhibition of exquisite drawings and collages inspired by Wives and Daughters was hung round the Chapel walls, and made it a particularly special place to celebrate Elizabeth Gaskell’s life and work.