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George Eliot (1819 - 1880)

Eliot, George

George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1819. She spent her early life in the country, nursing a sick father, and beginning to develop the ideas that she would later explore in her writing. After the death of Mr. Evans, she travelled through Europe and eventually moved to London, where she became the editor of the “Westminster Review”. There she met George Henry Lewes, a married man at the time, who would be her companion until his death in 1878.

In 1856, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction, something she had always wanted to do. With encouragement from Lewes, she wrote what later became SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. It was published in 1857, under the name of George Eliot. ADAM BEDE, the following year, became a huge sensation in the literary world. When the author’s identity was discovered, her publisher was afraid to print her next work because of the controversy surrounding the Lewes’ marriage. However, his fears proved unfounded, and George Eliot continued writing.

She produced several other books, of which the most famous is MIDDLEMARCH, a tale of life in a fictional English midlands town before the Reform Bill of 1832. Lewes passed away in 1878, and after mourning him for two years Evans accepted the proposal of John Cross, a man twenty years her junior. In 1880, after only seven months of marriage, George Eliot died of a sudden illness. She left behind her a legacy as a humane freethinker, and the author of novels that paved the way for modern character portrayals.

Famous quotations by George Eliot:

  • Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

  • I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.

  • Ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities.

  • It is never too late to be what you might have been.

  • One must be poor to know the luxury of giving.

  • The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.

  • The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.

  • Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.

  • Nothing is so good as it seems beforehand.

  • Suggested sites for George Eliot:

    Encyclopedia article about George Eliot
    Texts by Eliot
    Adam Bede
    A story about the consequences of actions. Adam Bede is a virtuous carpenter, betrayed by Hetty Sorrel, a dairymaid who has been seduced by a villager and must face the condemnation of society.
    Brother Jacob
    David Faux leaves his apprenticeship for the West Indies, only to return years later with an assumed identity and court Penelope Palfrey.
    The Lifted Veil
    The story of a clairvoyant young man and his fascination with a woman, Bertha Grant.
    Dorothea and Celia Brooke live with their uncle at Tipton Grange. Dorothea struggles to make social changes, despite the protesting from her family.
    The Mill on the Floss
    Silas Marner
    Silas Marner, a man obsessed with money, is robbed, finds an abandoned baby, and raises her as his own.

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