Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, often referred to as Mrs Gaskell, was an English novelist and short story writer. Her novels offer a detailed portrait of the lives of many strata of Victorian society, including the very poor, and are of interest to social historians as well as lovers of literature. Her first novel, Mary Barton, was published in 1848. Gaskell's The Life of Charlotte Brontë, published in 1857, was the first biography of Brontë. Some of Gaskell's best known novels are Cranford (1851–53), North and South (1854-55), and Wives and Daughters (1865).