AIM Biffa Award to support new exhibition areas at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

We’re delighted to announce that Elizabeth Gaskell’s House has been awarded just over £39,000 of funding from AIM Biffa Award, as part of the Landfill Communities Fund, which will fund a new exhibition to show how Elizabeth Gaskell’s work is still relevant in the 21st Century.

Thanks to funding through the AIM Biffa Award History Makers programme, this new Amazon’s of Ardwick project will show how the Victorian writer and her daughters influenced social and cultural change nationally and internationally.  Themes explored and discussed by Elizabeth in her novels and short stories are still relevant and under discussion today, including education and welfare for the poor, minimum wages, working conditions and the treatment of women. This exciting project will bring these stories to life through film, digital interpretation and new exhibition areas throughout the House.

Sally Jastrzebski-Lloyd, House Manager at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House says‘Although lesser known today than some of her contemporaries, Elizabeth’s first novel Mary Barton, published in 1848, had a great impact on the reading public and was widely reviewed and discussed. Its subject matter, the appalling state of the poor in the Manchester area, is said to have awakened the conscience of the nation.

We also know that Elizabeth and her daughters jointly supported Lancashire cotton workers during the Cotton Famine of 1861-1865 and, as abolitionists, supported the mill workers, who at great personal sacrifice, took a principled stand by refusing to touch raw cotton picked by US slaves. Elizabeth and her daughters initiated a type of food bank to be set up for workers, sourced a fresh milk supply for children and led sewing classes for the women and girls affected.  

Elizabeth Gaskell was a History Maker. Her legacy needs to be shared more widely and we hope this AIM Biffa Award funded project will help us to achieve this.’

Lisa Ollerhead, AIM Director, said‘We’re so pleased to be able to fund this fascinating project and to have Elizabeth Gaskell join the AIM Biffa Award History Makers; a collective of projects that use the life and achievements of extraordinary historical figures to inspire and educate visitors and users today.’

Rachel Maidment, Biffa Award Grants Manager, adds: ‘It is a privilege to be able to support this project telling the story of Elizabeth Gaskell, a hugely influential Victorian woman, and her family in new and exciting ways. It is amazing to think that the issues that faced women like Elizabeth in the 1800s are still relevant today in the 2000s. We can’t wait to see the new exhibition, funded through the AIM Biffa Award History Makers’ programme, when it is completed.’

The new exhibition area will be unveiled in the summer of 2022. This follows the successful opening of Elizabeth’s bedroom and the new exhibition A Love Affair with Cranford in 2021.