Two Book Fairs in One Day

On Sunday we enjoyed two Bookfairs in Manchester. The first was the monthly Book Sale at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, and the second at the gorgeous Gorton Monastery.

Elizabeth Gaskell's House is always a joy to visit and the Book Sale adds to the pleasure. I was fairly restrained, but the friend we went with, left with a large bag filled to the brim with books! We enjoyed tea and coffee in the charming cafĂ©. 

We also explored the House, again. Each time we visit, there is something new to see. On this occasion I was really interested in a display about Gaskell's use of Lancashire dialect in her novels. Elizabeth Gaskell was particularly fond of the words "clemmed" meaning starving and "nesh" meaning tender, feeble or susceptible to cold. These are both words familiar from my childhood. The display explained that William Gaskell was a scholar of Lancashire dialect and firmly believed that it had its origins in Anglo-Saxon, as well as in the languages of the ancient Britons. This latter connection gave the Lancashire dialect some words in common with Welsh, which is where my understanding of the words "clemmed" and "nesh" comes from. Chaucer and Shakespeare both used words that still survived in Lancashire when Gaskell was writing. This demonstrated to William Gaskell that Lancashire was not an inferior form of language but just an alternative one.

Henry Fothergill Chorley wrote, in 1855, "the author of Mary Barton seems bent on doing for Lancashire and the Lancashire dialect what Miss Edgeworth did for Ireland and Scott for the land across the border. There has been no use of English patois in English fiction comparable to hers."

Our next destination was the Manchester Monastery, or Gorton Monastery, as it is known locally. The Book Fair was excellent and we made a few purchases, but the star of the show was the building. Designed and built by the Pugin family, the Monastery is a Gothic masterpiece created by a devoutly Catholic architect. Pugin was the leading architect of the Victorian Gothic Revival and, as well as churches, designed the Houses of Parliament.

The building is being rescued from near dereliction. Work on the restoration commenced in 2005. However, there is an amazing sense of peace and tranquility. We were blown away by the beauty all around us. For once, the books were secondary.