Subtitled A Study of Provincial Life, George Eliot's novel Middlemarch, published in eight books or installments between 1871 and 1872, is also a study in human nature; a portrait of several memorable characters, the first of whom is Dorothea Brooke; and a historical reflection from the vantage point of the early 1870s on the three years culminating in the passage of the first Reform Bill in 1832. By the time she was writing this novel, Eliot was already a well-established and highly respected author. In her editorial work at the Westminster Review and through George Henry Lewes and their London circle of intellectuals, Eliot was exposed to the leading scientific, medical, and psychological thinking of her day. This novel reflects that exposure and demonstrates the breadth of her reading in English and other languages. Each chapter begins with an epigram (a concise, often satirical poem or witty expression) that is related to the text, sometimes ironically. Some of the epigraphs are attributed to other writers and were taken from a wide range of sources, while the unsigned ones were written by the author herself.