‘Such rambling habits’: Walking in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South


  • Jacqueline F. Kolditz University of Vechta


Victorian Literature, gender, Women walkers, Walking, City, Elizabeth Gaskell


In recent years mobility in the Victorian novel has become an interest to more scholars. Walking is an important aspect of mobility, especially in connection to gender. The most famous walker is the flaneur, but men were not the only ones walking the Victorian streets. The focus of this article is Elizabeth Gaskell’s Margaret Hale from her novel North and South (1854) and her walking habits. Walking is not only a form of mobility, but it is also connected to certain social issues such as class and gender and it is related to exercise, courtship, shopping and many other topics too. For Margaret walking is a way to explore her new home in Milton and to get to know its people. Her walking habits also show that walking is often connected to thinking and emotions.

North and South also demonstrates that walking is linked to certain dangers. The word ‘streetwalking’ already highlights the association of the prostitute with walking. This paper analyses these dangers but also highlights that walking was a way to express agency for Margaret. While Margaret risked her reputation while out walking, the positive outcomes of her walking outnumber its risks.


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How to Cite

‘Such rambling habits’: Walking in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South. (2023). Postgraduate English: A Journal and Forum for Postgraduates in English, 44. https://postgradenglishjournal.awh.durham.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/pgenglish/article/view/294