George Eliot

George Eliot

George Eliot (November 22, 1819 – December 22, 1880; real name Mary Ann Evans) was born in Warwickshire, England. She is held in great literary esteem for her probing Victorian novels.

She wrote under a masculine pen name, believing she would be taken more seriously. Her writing was politically driven. The characters are small-town individuals, some free thinkers, each with great psychological depth, something she is greatly admired for. Eliot writes about the truth in the world; how actions are impacted by the society one is surrounded by. Although all her stories are fictional, her writing style heightens their realism.

Eliot is also recognized for her interest in and knowledge of the visual arts. Her surviving journals and other writings contain information on trips to museums and a collection of her thoughts and emotions connected to the art works she viewed. She also wrote poetry and translated works, but is best known for her novels.

The daughter of a land agent, Eliot was from an early age intellectually curious. Deeply religious when young, she later broke with the Church. Her father left her with enough money to pursue her literary interests comfortably secure upon his death in 1849. Not long after, Eliot  began working with the Westminster Review in London. There, in 1854, she met George Henry Lewes, an editor who would become her mentor and companion until his death in 1878. Eliot remarried John Cross two years later; he was her friend and financial adviser. After a brief illness later that same year, Eliot died.


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George Eliot Quotes

george eliot

“And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better.” (Middlemarch, 1874)

“The best travel is that which one can take by one’s own fireside. In memory or imagination.”

“The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.” (“Janet’s Repentance from Scenes of Clerical Life, 1858)

“No story is the same to us after a lapse of time; or rather we who read it are no longer the same interpreters.”

“And when a woman’s will is as strong as the man’s who wants to govern her, half her strength must be concealment.”

“Every art which has its absolute technique is, to a certain extent, guarded from the intrusions of mere left-handed imbecility. But in novel-writing there are no barriers for incapacity to stumble against, no external criteria to prevent a writer from mistaking foolish facility for mastery.”

“I like not only to be loved, but to be told that I am loved. I am not sure that you are of the same kind. But the realm of silence is large enough beyond the grave. This is the world of light and speech, and I shall take leave to tell you that you are very dear.” (Letter to Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of the artist Edward Burne-Jones, 1875)

“The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.”

“I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offense.”(In a letter, 1871)

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

“I think I should have no other mortal wants, if I could always have plenty of music. It seems to infuse strength into my limbs, and ideas into my brain. Life seems to go on without effort, when I am filled with music.” (The Mill on the Floss, 1860)

“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

“There is no despair so absolute as that which comes with the first moments of our first great sorrow, when we have not yet known what it is to have suffered and healed, to have despaired and recovered hope.” (Adam Bede, 1859)

George Eliot ca 1865“What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?” (Middlemarch, 1871)

“Imagination is a licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogs, but may climb over walls and peep in at windows with impunity.” (Adam Bede, 1859)

“Human feeling is like the mighty rivers that bless the earth: it does not wait for beauty — it flows with resistless force and brings beauty with it.” (Adam Bede, 1859)

“How is it that the poets have said so many fine things about our first love, so few about our later love? Are their first poems their best? Or are not those the best which come from their fuller thought, their larger experience, their deeper-rooted affections? The boy’s flue-like voice has its own spring charm, but the man should yield a richer, deeper music.” (Adam Bede, 1859)


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