Elizabeth Gaskell's remarkable first novel, published in 1848, Mary Barton: A Tale of Manchester Life portrays a love that defies the rigid boundaries of class with tragic consequences. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by MacDonald Daly.Mary Barton, the daughter of disillusioned trade unionist, rejects her working-class lover Jem Wilson in the hope of marrying Henry Carson, the mill owner's son, and making a better life for herself and her father. But when Henry is shot down in the street and Jem becomes the main suspect, Mary finds herself painfully torn between the two men. Through Mary's dilemma, and the moving portrayal of her father, the embittered and courageous Chartist agitator John Barton, Mary Barton powerfully dramatizes the class divides of the 'hungry forties' as personal tragedy. In its social and political setting, it looks towards Elizabeth Gaskell's great novels of the industrial revolution, in particular North and South. Macdonald Daly's introduction discusses Gaskell's first novel as a pioneering work in the recognition of the conditions of the poor and working class.