Another Manchester Man


We have recently acquired a copy of the first book printing of The Manchester Man by Isabella Banks, also known as Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks, or simply Mrs Banks. The three-volume book was published in London in 1876 by Hurst and Blackett, and completes the Library’s collection of the full publishing history of this most famous of Manchester novels.

As well as the new addition, we hold the first publication of the story in serial form in Cassell’s Family Magazine for 1875, as well as the four volume author’s manuscript copy and many other editions including the most popular version, Abel Heywood’s illustrated edition of 1895.

 The novel has lent itself to a number of Manchester landmarks, including pubs named after two of the characters from the novel, Jabez Clegg and Joshua Brooks, and the publisher Abel Heywood. More recently the First Street development near HOME features Mrs Banks as one of five creative people people ‘who have made a significant contribution to Manchester through sheer talent, philanthropy and love for their city.’ A nice idea, although one wonders if anyone still reads the book today: Mrs Gaskell was a better writer and Anthony Burgess is better known. But like every other Manchester writer, their misfortune is that someone else came up with the title Manchester Man, a title that couldn’t ever really be bettered.

Perhaps one of the most (in)famous of Manchester men, the late Anthony H. Wilson, known to many as ‘Mr Manchester’, has an epitaph from the book on his gravestone. It reads ‘Mutability is the epitaph of worlds/ Change alone is changeless/ People drop out of the history of a life as of a land though their work or their influence remains’.



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  1. Fatima

    can you tell me anything about my great grandfather they say he had cotton Mills in Lancashire in I think Cheetham Mills.

    I am his great granddaughter as my MY Grandmother was MAY sumner or summner she died rest her soul Church of England and was married I think to a Lovatt surname my grandfather I think a John or my grandfather’s name not sure. my mother Janet Hassan

    • ferguswilde

      Dear Fatima,
      Thanks for your question. I can’t find anything to help with your query among our collections or from what I was able to gather from the web. I’m sorry we can’t be more help with this. If you would like to explore the possibility of finding out more, the best resource we know of is, although this is not a free service. I notice there are quite a few pages that come up under searches like “lovatt family”, and if you enquire in some of these groups you may get useful help or advice. Sorry we can’t help more directly.

  2. Spencer Needs

    Great news the you have acquired this edition of the Manchester Man, I am pleased to own a paper back copy of a version with all the illustrations, it is very good story. I think it would also honour Isabella Banks to give her maiden name of Varley. As Isabella Varley, poet, she had a poem read at the Sun Inn meeting in 1842 which was published in the Festive Wreath. She also had poems in other publications of the same era.

  3. Andrew Barker

    Well, I read the book only a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is often given as a leaving present to students of Chetham’s School of Music and it was this that piqued my interest.

  4. Bruce Thyer

    is anything know about the descendents of robert thyer, cheatham’s librarian in the 1700s? i believe he died without children of his own. nephews/neices pethaps?

    • ferguswilde

      I’m afraid we don’t have anything on the subject of Thyer’s descendants. I see that that tells us “Thyer died on 27 October 1781 in Long Millgate, Manchester, and was buried with his ancestors in Manchester collegiate church. His wife and all their children had predeceased him.”

  5. Cathy Roylance

    Wondering if there are any Copie of the “Manchester Man” In the United States anywhere? Specfically in the New York Area.

    • ferguswilde

      Hello, yes, there are – according to the New York Public Library Catalogue at, they have:

      By Call number
      Advanced search

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      3 results found. Sorted by relevance | date | title .
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      Keywords (1-3 of 3)
      Relevant Relevant titles entries 1-2
      Burney, Edward Lester, 1903-
      Mrs. G. Linnæus Banks, author of the Manchester man etc.
      Manchester, E. J. Morten (Publishers),

      Location Call No. Status Message
      SASB M1 – General Research – Room 315 D-19 4521 AVAILABLE USE IN LIBRARY
      View Full Record
      More Information about this Title
      Banks, George Linnaeus, Mrs.
      The Manchester man

      Location Call No. Status Message
      SASB M2 – General Research Room 315 NCW (Banks, I. V. Manchester man) AVAILABLE USE IN LIBRARY
      View Full Record

      Hope this helps!

  6. Cathy Roylance

    Wondering if you have anything on the Roylance/Rylance/Ryland Family who lived in the Salford Area. My 3rd GGrandfather Peter Roylance and 4th GGrandfather William Roylance are believed to have lived there for a time. I am from the USA and have researched some at Manchester Library in 2009, and found a Peter Roylance but he was a well known Lawyer, which as far as I know we have none in our Family Line. Thank You ahead of time should you find anything or a Reference. Cathy

    • ferguswilde

      Hi Cathy,

      I think the best way into this is via We don’t have anything archival here I can identify, and because ancestry have done so much work on such a large variety of records I would be inclined to use them even though they do charge.