The suburban Manchester house described by Charlotte Bronte as "large," "cheerful," and "airy," reopened this weekend after a multi-million-dollar renovation. Its most famous former occupant, the bestselling Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, wrote some of her most beloved works there including "Cranford," "North and South," and "Wives and Daughters."
The home was a rare surviving example of a suburban Victorian villa and ten years ago was listed as an "at risk" property. The $4-million renovation has transformed the home into a fully-functional museum, complete with original artifacts and period furnishings and decorations. Interactive museum exhibits and a garden of plants mentioned in Gaskell's writing round out the experience.
A variety of famous literary visitors stayed at the home while Gaskell was in residence, including the Brontes, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Comments from house visitors, as well as notes made by Gaskell herself, helped researchers meticulously re-create the interior of the house in its heyday.
Gaskell's star has risen in recent years, thanks to a slate of popular television productions of her novels.
The house opened to the public on Sunday, October 5.
[Image from Wikipedia]