- Series: Penguin Classics
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (March 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140434305
- ISBN-13: 978-0140434309
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 77 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #433,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Ruth (Penguin Classics)
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About the Author
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell was born in London in 1810, but she spent her formative years in Cheshire, Stratford-upon-Avon and the north of England. In 1832 she married the Reverend William Gaskell, who became well known as the minister of the Unitarian Chapel in Manchester’s Cross Street. As well as leading a busy domestic life as minister’s wife and mother of four daughters, she worked among the poor, traveled frequently and wrote. Mary Barton (1848) was her first success.
Two years later she began writing for Dickens’s magazine, Household Words, to which she contributed fiction for the next thirteen years, notably a further industrial novel, North and South (1855). In 1850 she met and secured the friendship of Charlotte Brontë. After Charlotte’s death in March 1855, Patrick Brontë chose his daughter’s friend and fellow-novelist to write The Life of Charlotte Brontë (1857), a probing and sympathetic account, that has attained classic stature. Elizabeth Gaskell’s position as a clergyman’s wife and as a successful writer introduced her to a wide circle of friends, both from the professional world of Manchester and from the larger literary world. Her output was substantial and completely professional. Dickens discovered her resilient strength of character when trying to impose his views on her as editor of Household Words. She proved that she was not to be bullied, even by such a strong-willed man.
Her later works, Sylvia’s Lovers (1863), Cousin Phillis (1864) and Wives and Daughters (1866) reveal that she was continuing to develop her writing in new literary directions. Elizabeth Gaskell died suddenly in November 1865.
Top customer reviews
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Ruth is the story of a young and innocent orphan who falls into the hands of a vain aristocratic young man named Mr Bellingham. Ruth Hilton was apprenticed to a seamstress by her guardian, but she loses her job when Mrs Mason, her employer, finds Ruth alone with Bellingham. The sweet and innocent orphan finds herself without a roof over her head. The cunning Bellingham coaxes Ruth into accompanying him to London where he promises he will take care of her. Ruth agrees. The sixteen year old orphan cannot begin to comprehend the ramifications of her decision.
Ruth and Bellingham spend time at an inn in Wales where there is much talk and gossip about the beautiful young lady who is accompanied by a man who is not her husband. Ruth, however, remains oblivious to the gossip behind her back. Her stay in Wales is simply the happiest time of her life, but that happiness is cut short.
Bellingham becomes ill and is whisked away by his mother leaving Ruth alone and heartbroken. Soon after Bellingham's departure Ruth is taken in by generous clergyman, Mr Benson. Ruth discovers that she is pregnant, and Mr Benson and his sister, Faith, take Ruth home with them and attempt give her a new identity to avoid the stigma attached to an unmarried mother. Ruth takes up residence at the Benson's home under the name of the widow Denbigh. Ruth lives with the Benson's for many years, but secrets always have a way of coming out.
This is a novel of sin and redemption. The subject matter may not seem controversial to modern readers, but the author was very apprehensive about how the novel would be received by nineteenth-century readers. The novel sparked all sorts of debate about redemption that may or may not interest readers today, but the novel is worth reading for its emotional intensity. Ruth has one of the most heartbreaking endings that I have ever read. Highly recommended!