On August 2, 1869, George Eliot begins work on her masterpiece Middlemarch. She was born Mary Ann Evans on November 22, 1819 in Warwickshire, England. After her mother’s death in 1841 the family moved to Coventry. In Coventry, Eliot grew close with her neighbors, the radical intellectual Bray family. With their encouragement, she began writing. After her father's death in 1849, she moved to London to become a freelance writer. There, she boarded with the family of John Chapman, who had published some of her work. Chapman purchased the Westminster Review in 1842, which Eliot edited for three years. About this time, Eliot became involved with married journalist and writer George Henry Lewes. Divorce was extremely difficult in Victorian England, so Lewes and Eliot lived together but never married. Her polite Victorian acquaintances refused to call on her. Fearful that her unconventional relationship would provoke unfair criticism of her work, she began publishing fiction under the pseudonym George Eliot. Her earliest fiction Scenes of Clerical Life was published in 1858. Her first full-length novel, Adam Bede, was published in 1859. It was well received, as was most of her six other novels, including The Mill on the Floss (1869) and Silas Marner (1861). Middlemarch, published in eight parts from 1871 to 1872, and is considered Eliot's finest work. The novel presented a sweeping survey of all social classes in a rural town, drawing psychological insights that set the stage for the modern novel. After Lewes' death in 1878, Eliot married John Cross, her investment manager who was some 20 years her junior. She died seven months later.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Literary Legends of the British Isles. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:
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