Saturday, August 2, 2014

Novelist George Eliot Began Writing "Middlemarch" (August 1, 1869)

On this date in English literary history – August 2, 1869, George Eliot began writing the classic novel Middlemarch. Eliot, born Mary Ann Evans in Warwickshire, England, in 1819, after her mother’s death in 1841, she moved with her father to Coventry. There she grew close with her neighbors, the radical intellectual Bray family. With their encouragement, Eliot began writing literary reviews. After her father's death in 1849, she moved to London to become a freelance writer, where 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.

Around this same time, Eliot became involved an affair 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 male pseudonym George Eliot. Her earliest published fiction, several rural sketches, were published as a book, Scenes of Clerical Life (1858). Her first full-length novel, Adam Bede, was published in 1859. It was well received, as were most of her six other novels, including The Mill on the Floss (1869) and Silas Marner (1861). Middlemarch, published in eight parts between 1871 to 1872, is considered by many to be her greatest 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 numerous books that include Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book awards and Readers Favorite International Book Awards. For more information about the author visit his website His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

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