Quotes by George Eliot, Author of Middlemarch

george eliot

George Eliot (1819 –1880) was the masculine pen name of Mary Ann Evans, the esteemed British author of Victorian-era novels. Her writing was political and creative, inspired by art, psychology, and current events.

Her novels were critically acclaimed and sold well upon publication. From Adam Bede (1859) through Daniel Deronda (1876), George Eliot was at her most productive. These books along with The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, and Middlemarch are considered some of the finest and most important literary works in British literature.

In addition to these and other novels, Eliot also wrote poems, short stories, translations, and essays. Here is a selection of thoughtful quotes by George Eliot from several of her novels as well as her letters.

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

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“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)

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

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

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“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.”

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George Eliot
The Literary Friendship of George Eliot and Harriet Beecher Stowe

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“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)

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

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

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“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.”

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“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)

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“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” (Adam Bede, 1859)

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“It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” 

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 “A woman’s choice generally means taking the only man she can get.” (Adam Bede, 1859)

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“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)

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Middlemarch by George Eliot

See more quotes from Middlemarch by George Eliot

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

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“And, of course men know best about everything, except what women know better.” (Middlemarch, 1871)

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“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact.” 

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“It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses.” 

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“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” 

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

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“We mortals, men and women, devour many a disappointment between breakfast and dinner-time; keep back the tears and look a little pale about the lips, and in answer to inquiries say, “Oh, nothing!” Pride helps; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our hurts— not to hurt others.” (Middlemarch, 1871)

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“What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?”  (Middlemarch, 1871)

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Romola by George Eliot

George Eliot page on Amazon

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“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)

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“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)

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“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?” (Adam Bede, 1859)

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