by Carolyn Lambert
Nominated for the Sonia Rudikoff Prize
“Lambert does justice to her subject, offering a sympathetic and nuanced portrayal of a writer who put the conflicting aspects of her own experience to rich fictional use” Women: A Cultural Review
In this beautifully written study, Carolyn Lambert explores the ways in which Elizabeth Gaskell challenges the nineteenth-century cultural construct of the home as a domestic sanctuary offering protection from the external world. Gaskell’s fictional homes often fail to provide a place of safety: doors and windows are ambiguous openings through which death can enter, and are potent signifiers of entrapment as well as protective barriers. The underlying fragility of Gaskell’s concept of home is illustrated by her narratives of homelessness, a state she uses to represent psychological, social, and emotional separation.
By drawing on novels, letters and non-fiction writings, Lambert shows how Gaskell’s detailed descriptions of domestic interiors allow for nuanced and unconventional interpretations of character and behaviour, and evince a complex understanding of the significance of home for the construction of identity, gender and sexuality. Lambert’s Gaskell is an outsider whose own dilemmas and conflicts are reflected in the intricate and multi-faceted portrayals of home in her fiction.
1 – Home Sweet Home
2 – A Man About the House: Masculinity in Gaskell’s Fiction
3 – Sex, Secrets and Stability: Domestic Artefacts and Rituals
4 – The Discourse of Difference: Homelessness in Gaskell’s Fiction
5 – The Invisible Hand: Servants in Gaskell’s Shorter Fiction
Carolyn Lambert recently finished her PhD at the University of Sussex and now teaches at the University of Brighton. Before pursuing an academic career, Carolyn worked for many years in local government and was Chief Executive of a regeneration project in East Sussex. Her current projects involve Fanny Trollope and knitting socks.