A deep lead-coloured cloud: smoke and Northern English space in the industrial novel

Goodwin-Hawkins, Bryonny ORCID: 0000-0002-9399-5486 (2019) A deep lead-coloured cloud: smoke and Northern English space in the industrial novel. Literary Geographies, 5 (1). pp. 25-38.

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When Margaret Hale, heroine of Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1854 novel North and South, first sights the distant smoke of a Northern English industrial town, she mistakes the ‘deep lead-coloured cloud’ for rain. Her confusion is pointed: industrial smoke was not of nature. Nor, indeed, was this the homely smoke of warm hearths. Industrial smoke was a disorienting and other atmosphere. It was also an atmosphere that featured prominently in emergent geographies of the North. For Charles Dickens, whose Hard Times was also published in 1854, the industrial North echoed fearful geographies of distant lands; smoke-stained brick was “red and black like the painted face of a savage”, and smoke itself made “monstrous serpents”. In this article, I explore the smoky atmospheres of Northern England in industrial-era novels. Visiting both Gaskell’s “Milton” and Dickens’ “Coketown” - which turn real places into archetypal industrial spaces - I show how industrial smoke’s striking materiality became at once definitive of Northern English space and redolent of socio-political change. And, I wonder how Milton and Coketown’s smoky geographies might still be with us.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Northern England; Dickens; Gaskell; Smoke; Industry
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD2350.8 Large industry, Factory system, Big business
P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR401 Modern > PR451 19th century
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Rhiannon Goodland
Date Deposited: 16 Sep 2020 13:03
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 16:45
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/8746

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