Elizabeth Gaskell house to open with £2m restoration

Elizabeth Gaskell's house Elizabeth Gaskell wrote most of her novels in the house

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The former house of Cranford author Elizabeth Gaskell in Manchester is to be opened to the public after being awarded almost £2m for a restoration.

Gaskell moved to the villa on Plymouth Grove in 1850, three years before her novel Cranford was published.

Visitors will be able to see the house as it would have looked during her time there, restored with the £1.85m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

It was damaged last year when metal thieves ripped off most of the roof.

Gaskell's work enjoyed renewed popularity after Cranford was adapted for a BBC drama starring Dame Judi Dench, Dame Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon in 2007.

Other novels written by Gaskell while living at the house included North and South and Wives and Daughters.

Gaskell was visited in the house by great literary figures including Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, and the author lived there until her death in 1865.

Sara Hillton, head of Heritage Lottery Fund North West, said: "This building is hugely important to Manchester - both because of its association with Elizabeth Gaskell and as a rare remaining example of a Victorian suburban villa.

Cranford The all-star TV adaptation of Cranford was a ratings hit

"Alongside the preservation of the house itself, the creation of displays and exhibitions will enhance people's understanding of the Gaskells within the context of the local area and Manchester at the time."

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded the grant to Manchester Historic Buildings Trust, which owns the building.

Rooms on the ground floor, including her husband William's study, the morning room and the drawing and dining rooms, still have some original fittings and are expected to be opened to the public. There will also be education and community facilities.

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