"North and South" is a social novel by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell. She uses a protagonist from southern England to present and comment on the perspectives of both mill owners and mill workers in an industrializing city. "North and South" is set in the fictional industrial town of Milton in the North of England. Forced to leave her home in the tranquil rural south, Margaret Hale settles with her parents in Milton where she witnesses the brutal world wrought by the industrial revolution and employers and workers clashing in the first organized strikes. Sympathetic to the poor, whose courage and tenacity she admires and among whom she makes friends, she clashes with John Thornton, a cotton mill manufacturer who belongs to the nouveaux riches class and whose contemptuous attitude to workers Margaret rejects.
The novel traces both her growing understanding of the complexity of labor relations and her impact on well-meaning mill owners, and her conflicted relationship with John Thornton.