Female Slave Narratives
“The Grey Woman” and My Lady Ludlow
This chapter examines two of Elizabeth Gaskell's fictions: a gothic short story, “The Grey Woman” (1861), and a provincial novella, My Lady Ludlow (1859). In “The Grey Woman,” Gaskell deploys the trope of “passing” to comment on female subjugation and the instability of gender identity, borrowing from the experience of female slave narrators like Harriet Jacobs and Ellen Craft. In My Lady Ludlow, she depicts turn-of-the-century anxieties regarding working-class literacy while evoking mid-century fears over American slave literacy and British working-class reform.
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