The novelist Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell is now best-known as the author of Cranford and North and South, and the biographer of her friend Charlotte Brontë. Her greatest books were written in reaction to the industrialisation of Manchester, where she lived for much of her life. She was born in Chelsea, London on 29 September 1810, the daughter of William Stevenson and Elizabeth Holland. After her mother died in 1811, she was brought up by her aunt, Hannah Lumb, in Knutsford, Cheshire.