Elizabeth Gaskell: Sylvia's Lovers

(2304 words)
  • Josie Billington (University of Liverpool)

Sylvia’s Lovers is set in Whitby in the 1790’s when the town (renamed Monkshaven in the novel) was a thriving whaling port, and its central shaping event concerns the activities of the press gang in forcibly recruiting for the English navy during the French Revolutionary wars. Sylvia Robson is the only child of erstwhile sailor Daniel and his wife Bell, and the object of devotion of her cousin Philip Hepburn, a dully serious merchant’s clerk and doggedly loyal visitor to Haytersbank Farm, despite Sylvia’s dislike of his attentions. Philip in his turn is loved, unbeknown to him, by Hester, daughter of Alice Rose with whom he lodges. When a homeward-bound whaler is attacked by the press gang, Charley Kinraid, its chief …

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Billington, Josie. "Sylvia's Lovers". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 February 2007
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1763, accessed 30 September 2016.]