It is asserted that the inspiration for Elizabeth Gaskell's marvellous stories of Cranford was her childhood home of Knutsford, a small town in Cheshire and to where she returned for a while as a young woman. This assertion is born out by an essay she wrote in 1849 entitled The Last Generation in England, in which she writes about "The town in which I once resided ...". There can be little doubt when reading this that it provided her with the template for Cranford.
In 1851 the year she began to write Cranford, she also wrote a novella entitled Mr. Harrison's Confessions. It describes the life of a country doctor in a small provincial town. Mrs. Gaskell's model for this town could also only have been Knutsford which she knew and loved so well. The story revolves around the arrival in the town of a young doctor and the attempts of the ladies of the town to place his status within their society and of course to find him a suitable wife. It is often thought of as a prequel to Cranford.Both of these pieces together with the novels, My Lady Ludlow and Cranford were used by the BBC to create the Television series Cranford in 2007. (Summary by Noel Badrian)