IntroductionThe great author Henry James called her hideously ugly, but James also admitted that George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Anne Evans, was so intelligent that he couldn’t help but fall in love with her. That second part is certainly true: readers have been falling in love with Eliot and her work ever since her first story “Amos Barton,” was published in 1857. She had previously been a journalist and a translator, but once Eliot began to write novels, she turned fiction on its head with richly textured works such as A Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch. Unlike many writers before her, she was interested not so much in what her characters did but how they thought and felt—an interest that paved the way for modern novels that were more experimental than Eliot’s...but never quite as beautiful.
- When Eliot’s first novel, Adam Bede, became a success, several men claimed to have written the book. Eliot was forced to come forward as the rightful author.
- When the reading public discovered that Eliot was a woman, they didn’t know whether to condemn her for being an arrogant woman who thought she could write...or praise her for writing so well.
- For over thirty years, Eliot lived with philosopher George Henry Lewes, although they never married and Lewes already had a wife.
- It has been suggested that Herbert Spencer, a famed British philosopher, had an affair with Eliot and then broke up with her. Afterward, he wrote an essay on the repugnancy of ugly women. All of Eliot’s friends knew whom he was writing about.
- British author Virginia Woolf said that Eliot’s Middlemarch was the first novel written for grown-ups.
All Resources by Category
- Adam Bede - Literary Characters
- Adam Bede - Literary Places
- Adam Bede Criticism
- Critical Survey of Short Fiction
- Daniel Deronda - Literary Characters
- Daniel Deronda - Literary Places
- Felix Holt, the Radical - Literary Characters
- Felix Holt, the Radical Criticism
- George Eliot Poetry Criticism
- Middlemarch - Literary Places
- Middlemarch - Women's Literature Series
- Notable British Novelists
- Romola - Literary Characters
- Romola - Literary Places
- Silas Marner - Literary Characters
- Silas Marner - Literary Places
- Silas Marner - Women's Literature Series
- The Lifted Veil Criticism
- The Mill on the Floss - Literary Characters
- The Mill on the Floss - Literary Places
- The Mill on the Floss - Women's Literature Series
- Adam Bede - Book Review
- Middlemarch - Book Review
- Silas Marner - Book Review
- The Mill on the Floss - Book Review
- Middlemarch - Masterplots
- Silas Marner - Masterplots
- Silas Marner Study Guide (eNotes)
- The Lifted Veil Study Guide
- The Mill on the Floss - Masterplots
- The Mill on the Floss Study Guide (eNotes)
Did this raise a question for you?