The successive attacks on her were, however, having their effect
and 'The Life of Charlotte Bronte' marks the end of her career as
a controversial writer. Her remaining books, 'Sylvia's Lovers',
'Cousin Phyllis' and 'Wives and Daughters', are novels written in
an increasingly mature, gentle and tranquil vein.
far the most important, and one of the greatest in Knutsford interest,
is her last work, 'Wives and Daughters', a leisurely novel of country
lives and loves. Many Knutsford buildings and personages figure
in 'Wives and Daughters'.
In writing of this novel, it is impossible to improve on the comment
of the distinguished woman writer, Miss Rosamund Lehmann:
"'Wives and Daughters', Mrs. Gaskell's last novel, is also
incomparably her richest and most satisfying. In it, her creative
imagination comes to its fullness - a fruit ripened as it were in
a memorable year for bloom and crop. A great patient season of sun
has gone to its maturing. The rains that freshened it have been
temperate and all propitious; and although there is age in it, there
is also youth, renewal and the promise of next season's secret buds."