Biography of George Eliot


MlSS MARIAN C. EVANS, the daughter of a dissenting minister in Derbyshire, England, was born November 22nd, 1820. Before she became known as the author of the remarkable series of fictions With which her name is popularly associated, she had already acquired reputation in the literary circles of the metropolis, as a writer of distinguished ability. She contributed largely to the Westminster Review, of which she is said at one time to have been joint-editor, and is known to have been the translater of the famous "Leben Jesu," of Dr. Strauss, an English version of which was published in 1846. During 1857, there appeared in Blackwood's Magazine, with the signature of George Eliot, a series of stories under the title of "Scenes of Clerical Life," the very unusual merit of which at once attracted attention. They seemed to proclaim with great distinctness, the advent of a new novelist of fresh and original power. It was from the first sufficiently well understood that the signature was a mere "nom de plume;" and no little curiosity was excited as to the personality of the unknown author. This feeling was very much deepened in 1858 by the publication of the novel, "Adam Bede," which attained an immense success, and at once secured for the writer almost undisputed rank with the most eminent novelists of the day. This was followed in 1859, by the "The Mill on the Floss," which amply sustained the reptutation of the writer; and in 1861, by "Silas Marner, the Weaver of Raveloe," a tale in one volume, which, as to art, is perhaps the most perfect of any of this series of works. In 1868, "Romola," an elaborate historical novel of Italian life, was published by Messrs. Smith, Elder & Co., in whose Cornhill Magazine it had previously from month to month appeared. This work has never had quite the popularity of its predecessors, but is considered by a selecter circle of readers - and perhaps on the whole with justice - the greatest intellectual effort of the author. It had by degrees become positively certain that Miss Evans, who in the meantime had become the wife of G. A. Lewes, was the "George Eliot" of these works; and by not a few prominent critics a place had been promptly assigned her at the very summit of this branch of our literature. "Felix Holt, the Radical," published in 1866, was almost everywhere received with acclamation. In 1868, appeared her "Spanish Gipsey." In 1869 "Agatha," a poem, was published, and MacMillan's Magazine, in 1870, contained "The Legend of Tubal," a poem of great power, and the following year the same magazine regaled its readers with "Armgate," a dramatic poem also by Miss Evans. "Meddlemarch," published in 1872, had an enormous circulation, as had also her later work, "Daniel Deronda." In May, 1880, she married Mr. J.W. Cross, (Mr. Lewes having died the previous year), but her health, never robust, failed soon afterwards, and in the following winter she died at Chelsea, near London, whither she had removed only a few weeks before.