The widespread interest taken in the celebration of Mrs. Gaskell's centenary in September, 1910 (in commemoration of which the original edition of this work was published), proved how highly Mrs. Gaskell and her works are valued, not only in the British Isles, but throughout the English-speaking world. As the only biographical volume on the author of Cranford and of The Life of Charlotte Bronte, the earlier edition attracted considerable attention.
For further research, I have revisited many of the haunts connected with Mrs. Gaskell, and I have been fortunate in meeting those who knew the novelist intimately. In addition, a number of corespondents, some personally unknown to me, others connected by family relationship with Mrs. Gaskell, have most generously supplied me with additional information, which they have kindly permitted me to use. This has enabled me to verify difficult points, which previous investigation had failed to reveal. The enormous amount of research necessary for the completion of this volume would have proved insurmountable had it not been for the uniform kindness and help which I have received from many sources in every district associated with Mrs. Gaskell and her novels. When she died, nearly fifty years ago, all the usual channels of information were sealed, the consequence being that the little which had been written previously contained a number of errors, especially concerning dates.
After repeated efforts I have succeeded in obtaining certificates and authentic information relating to all the important events of Mrs. Gaskll's life, including the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, Mrs. Gaskell's birth, and her mother's and her father's death. A hiatus in two important registers, and the four different ways in which Stevenson was spelt, added to the difficulties of obtaining reliable information, which even Mrs. Gaskell's own family had not been able to supply.
It was generally assumed that the house in which Mrs. Gaskell was born had been demolished, but as a result of my discovery that she was born at what is now known as 93, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, the Memorial Committee of the London County Council has placed a Memorial tablet on the house.
It is impossible to mention all who have so kindly given me so much willing assistance, for which I am most grateful, but my thanks are especially due to Sir Laurence Gomme for the interest he has taken in establishing my discovery of Mrs. Gaskell's birthplace, and to the Registrar-General for kindly allowing my son to take a photograph of the original birth certificate of Mrs. Gaskell now at Somerset House.
ESTHER ALICE CHADWICK.