Bio: George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans] (1819-1880) is regarded as one of the greatest Victorian novelists, especially noted for her insightful psychological characterization.
[George Eliot] was born in Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire. Her father was a carpenter who rose to be a land agent. She was educated at home and in several schools, and developed a strong evangelical piety. However, later Eliot rejected her dogmatic faith. When her mother died in 1836, she took charge of the family household. In 1841 she moved with her father to Coventry, where she lived with him until his death in 1849. After her father's death, Eliot traveled around Europe. She settled in London and took up work as sub editor of Westminster Review. Under Eliot's control the Westminster Review enjoyed success. She became the center of a literary circle, one of whose members was George Henry Lewes, who would be her companion until his death in 1878. Lewes's wife was mentally unbalanced and she had already had two children by another man. In 1854 Eliot went to Germany with Lewes. Their unconventional union caused some difficulties because Lewes was still married and he was unable to obtain divorce.
Eliot's first collection of tales Scenes of Clerical Life, appeared in 1858 under the pseudonym George Eliot. It was followed by her first novel, Adam Bede, a tragic love story in which the model for the title character was Eliot's father. The book was a brilliant success. Her other major works include The Mill on the Floss (1860), a story of destructive family relations, and Silas Marner (1861). Middlemarch (1871-72), her greatest novel, was probably inspired by her life at Coventry. The story follows the sexual and intellectual frustrations of Dorothea Brooke.
In 1860-61 Eliot spent some time in Italy collecting material for her historical romance, Romola. It was published serially first in the Cornhill Magazine and in book form in 1863. In 1876, she published Daniel Deronda. After Lewes's death Eliot married a twenty years younger friend, John Cross, an American banker, on May 6, 1880. After the honeymoon they returned to London, where she died of a kidney ailment on the same year on December 22. In her will she expressed her wish to be buried in Westminster Abbey, but Dean Stanley of Westminster Abbey rejected the idea and Eliot was buried in Highgate Cemetery.
George Eliot takes the well-worn tale of a lovely dairy-maid seduced by a careless squire, and out if it creates a portrait of the lives of ordinary Midlands working people--their labors and loves, their beliefs, their speech.
This concise supplement to George Eliot's Adam Bede helps students understand the overall structure of the work, actions and motivations of the characters, and the social and cultural perspectives of the author.