"I do believe he likes Manchester better than any other place in the world; and his study the best place in Manchester."

- Elizabeth Gaskell, 1850

Elizabeth said that he kept the room 'terribly hot'. She found a 'library table' to use as William's desk on a trip to London in 1855: '…mahogany, 3 large drawers on each side, dark/green leather top, five feet six inches in length.' It cost £6.

As a minister at Cross Street Chapel from 1828 until his death in 1884, William was heavily involved in its many social and educational initiatives, including the Lower Mosley Street Schools, the Domestic Home Mission and the Mechanics Institute. He co-founded both the Unitarian Home Missionary Board, and the Unitarian Herald. He also lectured widely, taught private pupils, published sermons and pamphlets, wrote and translated hymns, and sat on numerous committees.


Recreating the Gaskells' library

Recent research has revealed that the woodwork in this room was painted to look like mid-oak wood- grain; a technique known as ‘graining’, now skilfully reproduced. The books on the shelves are volumes that we know or believe that the Gaskells either owned or read. The evidence for reconstructing the Gaskells’ book collection comes from various historical and literary sources, including the 1914 catalogue of books sold after Meta’s death, references in Elizabeth’s works and letters, and the records of books and periodicals borrowed from the Portico Library. Like all active libraries, the Gaskells’ Library is not complete, and is part of a continuing process of research and acquisition at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.