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Elizabeth Gaskell
1810 - 1865



M a r y   B a r t o n:
F i r s t   o u t l i n e   p l a n
f o r   t h e   n o v e l


The first outline plan for the novel which became Mary Barton is given below, from the copy now in the Shorter Collection in the Brotherton Library, University of Leeds. For a discussion of the many changes between this draft and the final version see Edgar Wright, Mrs Gaskell: The Basis for Re-Assessment (1965).

First Chapter

Scene in G.H. - Spring Evening - Wilsons & Bartons - the Wilsons speak of Esther's disappearance - are joined by the Bartons, etc.

Second Chapter

Four years passed away. Changes. The strong Alice Wilson and healthy Thomas Barton dead - while the feeble and less healthy remain behind - no news yet of Esther.

Good times - how flourishing Wilson is - how he joins a Chartist Club at the instigation of Job Leigh - how he apprentices Mary to a dressmaker. How Widow Barton strives on to keep her delicate twins with the help of her son Thomas and succeeds.

How Thomas Barton on his way to his work meets Mary, and what arises therefrom.

How Mr Chadwick Junior on his way home to dinner always meets Mary and what arises therefrom.

A Father and daughter's talk over the fire; past life - gone and dead. The old always homing to the past, the young looking to the future. Plans for a day at Dunham next Whitsun week.

The day at Dunham.
Rumours of bad times - bad times.
Bradshaw & Co. fail. Wilson dismissed.
Mrs Barton's sorrows.
Wilson engaged at Chadwick & Co.'s Mill.
How Chartism from a theory becomes an action in bad times.

Vol. II

How Mary suffers from the bad times.
Margaret Cleg and Mary have mourning to make.
Death at the Bartons - Mary and Aunt Esther sit up by turns.
Mary's first love.
How in the midst of much sorrow, Mary is happy in her own individual world of love.
Poor Thomas Barton.
Thomas and Mary quarrel. His despair.
Mary's bliss. Her conscience-struck visit to poor Widow Barton. Aunt Esther.
Mary's downfall of heart. Mr Chadwick's threat.
Fanny's first visit to Wilson - her tale - her warning regarding Mary.
Mary undeceived. Who was listening.
Trade Unions, and desperation.
Mr Chadwick murdered.

Vol. III

The police on the scent.
Barton arrested.
Mary's revulsion of feeling. Goes to see Widow Barton. Accompanies her to prison.
Barton in prison.
Mary's determination to prove Barton's innocence.
Discovers the Murderer.
Visits Widow Barton. Aunt Esther's childishness.
A sympathizing and advising friend, Job Leigh.
How she proves an alibi by Margaret Clegg's help.
Interview with Barton. He knew too.
Father's death of remorse - Widow Barton's.
Aunt Esther's death.
Marriage - sail for America.
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