'He's spoilt my life,- he's spoilt it for as long as iver I live on this earth'
The compelling story of an ordinary girl's tragic passion for a man who disappears, Sylvia's Lovers (1863) is Elizabeth Gaskell's last completed novel. Set in a fictional Whitby at the end of the eighteenth century, the novel is a modern revenge tragedy in which well-intentioned actions have unforeseen and terrible human consequences. Sylvia is loved by two men, her serious cousin Philip and the charismatic sailor Charley Kinraid. When one of them betrays her, her path in life seems
fixed. Against the backdrop of the Napoleonic wars and the ever-present threat of press-gangs, the story darkens when Sylvia's father is roused into vengeful violence. But this trouble proves only the precursor to a greater calamity that will radically alter Sylvia's future.
Gaskell's novel, richly engaging with the legacy of the Bronte sisters, is her most extensive literary exploration of the tragic depths of unregarded, unhistoric, but vividly imagined lives.
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Francis O'Gorman has published widely on English literature and the Victorian period. Previous publications include The Cambridge Companion to Victorian Culture (2010) and editions of Anthony Trollope's The Duke's Children (with Katherine Mullin), and John Ruskin's Praeterita (2012) for Oxford World's Classics.