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Nuneaton 22 Nov. 1819 - London 22 Dec. 1880 • English novelist
|George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, born November 22, 1819, at South Farm, Arbury, Warwickshire, England. She was the youngest child of Robert Evans and his second wife, Christiana Pearson, and had four siblings, two by her father's first marriage and two by his second. Eliot was her father's favorite child and was brought up to follow his Protestant beliefs. However, in her early twenties, she told her father that although she admired Jesus and his teachings, she rejected the idea that the Bible was of divine origin, and she refused to go to church. This shocked her family and many others, but she refused to attend services she did not believe in. This emphasis on following her own inner promptings rather than social convention would become a marked feature of her character and her life.
After her father's death in 1849, she had little money and little chance of getting married because she did not fit the contemporary ideal of beauty. A meeting with John Chapman, a family friend, led her to write for the quarterly Westminster Review. Through this work, she met the writer George Henry Lewes in 1851. Lewes was married with five children, though separated from his wife, and he and Eliot fell in love and began openly living together, a scandalous act for the times. As a result, Eliot was ostracized by many "respectable" people for most of her life.
In September 1856, Eliot began to write fiction. Her first work,
| a story titled "Amos Barton," was published anonymously in the January 1857 issue of Blackwood's Magazine. More stories followed, and her first novel, Adam Bede, was published in 1859. It received immediate critical acclaim as "a work of genius" in the periodical The Athenaeum and was called "the highest art" by the writer Leo Tolstoy.
Eliot followed this with the semi-autobiographical The Mill on the Floss (1860), which was highly successful, earning her four thousand pounds in one year, a huge sum for the time. In the next ten years, she published Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1863), and Felix Holt the Radical (1866). From 1871 to 1872, she published her masterpiece, Middlemarch. This was followed by Daniel Deronda (1876) and Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879).
Lewes died in 1879, leaving Eliot grief-stricken. In 1880, she married John Walter Cross, who was about twenty years her junior, but she died of a respiratory infection only seven months later, on December 21, 1880, in London.
Eliot's books are notable for their realistic portrayal of pre-industrial English society, her interest in scandal and gossip, and her emphasis on political and social reform. They often feature female protagonists who struggle against social convention, but who, in the end, must accept it or be ostracized by their families and friends. (from: www.enotes.com)
|BOOKS BY GEORGE ELIOT:|
This analysis of the life of a provincial English town during the time of social unrest prior to the Reform Bill of 1832 is told through the lives of Dorothea Brooke and Dr Tertius Lydgate.
|The Mill on the Floss|
As Maggie Tulliver approaches adulthood, her spirited temperament brings her into conflict with her family, her community, and her much-loved brother Tom. Still more painfully, she finds her own nature divided between the claims of moral responsibility and her passionate hunger for self-fulfilment.
First published in installments in 1874-76, Daniel Deronda is a richly imagined epic with a mysterious hero at its heart.
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