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And it was true. Married to a minister, bringing up four children, keeping hearth and home, engaging herself in charity, the author of Cranford embodied old-fashioned femininity.
From the comfort of that married bliss, she ran a canny eye over the outside world, its quirks and its characters, especially those souls who, unlike her, were without men.
She created the town of Cranford - based on Knutsford in Cheshire where she spent the most formative years of her childhood and often returned to as an adult.
Now it has been lovingly and scintillatingly brought to life in a BBC1 TV drama, with Dame Judi Dench and Dame Eileen Atkins, on Sunday nights.