First published in 1977, this book studies three important nineteenth-century novelists: Mrs Gaskell, William Hale White and Thomas Hardy. They are all provincial novelists who wrote about social change and the attendant problems and pressures this brought with it. Unlike previous critics, who have tended to concentrate on her âsocial-problemâ novels, here the author treats Gaskellâs Sylviaâs Lovers and Cousin Phillis as central texts. However a chapter also examines Gaskell and Engels perception of social change in Manchester. This book also seeks to correct Hale Whiteâs neglect, anointing Revolution in Tannerâs Lane and Clara Hopgood major works. The survey of women in Hardyâs novels represents an illuminating new angle and leads on to a discussion of love and marriage in later Victorian fiction.