George Eliot …

George Eliot …

Mary Anne Evans (1819-1880); alternatively “Mary Ann” or “Marian”), known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss(1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of which are set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.

She was born in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. In 1850 she moved to London with the intent of becoming a writer. She took a job at a left-wing journal The Westminster Review, and became its assistant editor in 1851, a position she held until 1854. While continuing to contribute pieces to the Westminster Review, Evans resolved to become a novelist. She also adopted a nom-de-plume, the one for which she would become known: George Eliot. 

She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women’s writing only lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. 

George Eliot’s writing desk

In 1857, when she was 37, “The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton”, the first of the Scenes of Clerical Life, was published in Blackwood’s Magazine and, along with the other Scenes, it was well received (it was published in book form early in 1858). Her first complete novel, published in 1859, was Adam Bede; it was an instant success, but it prompted intense interest in who this new author might be. 

Few people knew of George Eliot’s true identity – although Charles Dickens, leading author of the day, detected that “no man ever before had the art of making himself, mentally, so like a woman.”

Her portable writing desk

In the end, the real George Eliot stepped forward and admitted she was the author. After the success of Adam Bede, Eliot continued to write popular novels for the next fifteen years. 

Her journals record that George Eliot generally wrote in the morning. After lunch she and her partner would usually go for walks. Evenings would be for reading. When Eliot was coming towards the end of a novel then all routines would go and she would write feverishly until it was finished- often with headaches & sore eyes along the way. 

George Eliot Fellowship


15 responses to “George Eliot …

  1. I adore that portable writing desk.

  2. Yes love the writing desk, but portable, me thinks not. Eliot was one of my first favourite Victorian authors and when I found out she was a woman, well…

  3. Although the great Roald Dahl did once call him Dahl’s Chickens. 😊

  4. Susanna Cardelli

    Thank You for the smiles and giggles late at night, reading Your comments.

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