Get Your Premium Membership

A Brief George Eliot Bio

by PoetrySoup
“Eliot (George),” the pen-name of Mary Ann Lewes (née Evans) one of the greatest novelists of the century, b. at Arbury Farm, near Griff, Warwickshire, 22 Nov. 1819. In ’41 the family removed to Foleshill, near Coventry. Here she made the friendship of the household of Charles Bray, and changed her views from Evangelical Christianity to philosophical scepticism. Influenced by The Inquiry into the Origin of Christianity, by C. C. Hennell (Bray’s brother-in-law), she made an analysis of that work. Her first literary venture was translating Strauss’ Leben Jesu, published in 1846. After the death of her father (’49) she travelled with the Brays upon the Continent, and upon her return assisted Dr. Chapman in the editorship of the Westminster Review, to which she contributed several articles. She translated Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity, ’54, the only work published with her real name, and also translated from Spinoza’s Ethics. Introduced by Herbert Spencer to George Henry Lewes, she linked her life with his in defiance of the conventions of society, July, ’54. Both were poor, but by his advice she turned to fiction, in which she soon achieved success. Her Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and Theophrastus Such have become classics. As a poet, “George Eliot” does not rank so high, but her little piece, “Oh, may I join the choir invisible,” well expresses the emotion of the Religion of Humanity, and her Spanish Gipsy she allowed was “a mass of Positivism.” Lewes died in 1878, and within two years she married his friend, J. W. Cross. Her new happiness was short-lived. She died 22 Dec. 1880, and is buried with Lewes at Highgate.