Isabella Varley was born in 1821 in Oldham Street, in Manchester’s Northern Quarter, and began writing stories and poems at an early age, becoming a regular contributor of reviews and articles to local paper and magazines. She married in 1846, after which time she published mainly under the name of Mrs G. Linnaeus Banks
The Manchester Man was published in three volumes in 1876, and tells the story of Jabez Clegg, the ‘Manchester Man’ of the title, mirroring the economic growth of the city of Manchester during the early years of the nineteenth century and vividly portraying the Corn Law riots and the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.
The Manchester Man ran to five editions in Mrs Banks’s lifetime and six since her death, and continues to be widely read and enjoyed. A quotation from the book appears on the gravestone of Anthony H. Wilson (1950-2007) in Manchester’s Southern Cemetery.
The copy held by the Library is Isabella Banks’ original manuscript, bound in four volumes with green leather spines.