George Eliot at 30. François D'Albert Durade

George Eliot at 30. François D’Albert Durade

Today, like most Fridays, I bring you a guest author. Today it’s a classic, Mary Anne Evans, better know as George Eliot.

As usual, I offer  you a brief biography (with links where you can find further information below), quotations (love them!), links to information and to her work (free!).


She was born on November 22, 1819, at South Farm, Arbury Hall in Warwickshire. She was the youngest of five children (her father had remarried after the death of his first wife). She attended boarding school in Nuneaton and was very influenced by the religious ideas of her teachers.  She had to leave the school aged 16 when her mother died of cancer (in 1836) but as she was a very good student her father and the whole family encouraged her learning and she studied Italian and German.

Her family moved to a larger town, Foleshill, where Mary Anne met Charles and Cara Bray, and they became friends. They introduced her to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Her readings and associations made her question her Christian faith and she renounced it. There was ongoing disagreement with her father due to this and they reached the agreement that she could believe whatever she liked as far as she behaved decorously in church. She continued to look after her father until his death in 1849.

She met John Chapman at the Brays, they became good friends and  he asked her to work as editor for the Westminster Review,  that he had purchased, although she did not receive any credit for it. The two years she worked there were amongst the most successful for the magazine. In 1851 she met George Henry Lewes, who was married but effectively separated from his wife (who was living with another man and had three children by him, although all had Lewes’s name), and they became romantically involved.

Lewes was in a difficult situation, as he could not divorce his wife after condoning her adultery, and Mary Anne and Lewis decided to live together abroad first, to avoid facing heavy criticism at home. They traveled to Germany in 1854 but their home situation was widely criticised. They returned to England the following year and Mary Anne and Lewes did not live together again until his wife said that she would never reunite with him. Mary Anne then moved in with him, in London, and insisted in being called Mrs. Lewes. This caused great scandal and resulted in the break up of her friendship with the Brays. Despite the outside pressures, their relationship was a happy one.

Lewes encouraged her to write and in 1856 she started writing ‘Scenes of a Clerical Life’ that were published in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’.  These proved popular and were published under pseudonym (as women were expected to be romance writers). In 1858 she published Adam Bede that proved very successful. Her real identity became known shortly after, and she had to suffer personal criticism, although her fame as a writer continued to grow. Her next two novels, were also very successful The Mill in the Floss (1860) and Silas Marner (1861). She tried different topics in Romola set in the Italian Renaissance (1863), Felix Holt, The Radical (1866) with a political subject, and The Spanish Gypsy (1869), a narrative poem.

She started writing Middlemarch in 1869. It was serialised between 1871 and 1872, and it was very successful. By that time the public was more accepting of their relationship, and their house became a popular meeting place for other writers and intellectuals. She published Daniel Deronda in 1876. Lewes died in 1878 and it was very difficult for the Eliot to carry on with her life.

John Cross, who had been a family friend and managed some of their affairs, worried about her well-being proposed marriage several times until she finally accepted. He was 20 years her junior (she was 61 at the time of their marriage in 1880). She became ill a few months later and died in her sleep on 22nd December 1880. She is buried next to George Lewes in Highgate Cemetery in North London.

George Eliot. Chalk drawing by Sir Frederick-William Burton

George Eliot. Chalk drawing by Sir Frederick-William Burton


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

Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.

Wear a smile and have friends; wear a scowl and have wrinkles.

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?

It is easy to say how we love new friends, and what we think of them, but words can never trace out all the fibers that knit us to the old. (I love this one!)

Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.

I’m not denyin’ the women are foolish. God Almighty made ’em to match the men.

An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.

One must be poor to know the luxury of giving!

A difference of taste in jokes is a great strain on the affections.

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

He was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow.

I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offence.

Adventure is not outside man: it is within.

Her quotes come from:

Photograph of George Eliot

Photograph of George Eliot



BBC History:

Encyclopaedia Britannica:

Another brief biography:

Her Goodreads Page:

The Literature Network:

Victorian web organisation:

Links to works:

(There are free links to his books and also fairly cheap editions of her books)

You can find all of her novels and stories in the Project Gutenberg free, including some audio versions:

Thanks for reading, and if you have enjoyed it, don’t forget to like, comment, share, and CLICK! (It’s free!).