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The Journals of George Eliot by George Eliot

The Journals of George Eliot


The Journals of George Eliot by George Eliot

The Journals of George Eliot publishes for the first time the entire text of the surviving journals of the great Victorian novelist, and constitutes a new text by her - the closest she came to autobiography. The journals span her life from 1854, when she entered into a common-law union with George Henry Lewes, to her death in 1880, revealing the professional writer George Eliot as well as the remarkable woman Marian Evans. Many aspects of her writing life are illuminated, such as the separation of 'George Eliot' - and the account of her work's public reception - from her 'private' self, at the time she began to write fiction. The journals present a George Eliot of many moods, not only the serious sybilline figure so admired in her later years. The edition's extensive apparatus includes a chronology, introduction, headnotes to each diary, and an annotated index supplying valuable contextual and explanatory information.


'The editors of this volume have done their work with admirable tact and persistence.'
Terry Eagleton, The Independent on Sunday

'This volume forms a valuable addition to Eliot scholarship ... Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston have produced a definintive work for future generations of Eliot enthusiasts and scholars.'
Sally Shuttleworth, The Times Literary Supplement

'The editors, who have produced a masterly piece of work, have included a chronology, excellent notes and a most valuable 'explanatory index.'
The Contemporary Review

'Unshrouded by prejudices and the various agendas of biographers, these abridged texts provide fascinating direct access to the author. The unobtrusive editing is suffciently informative without being overwhelming ...'. Charlotte Cory, The Independent '... a great contribution to scholarship ... a remarkable book for which biographers, critics and readers must be grateful and by which they should be enlightened.'
Barbara Hardy, The George Eliot Review

'This is a most valuable book, boon for those who wish to learn more about the remarkable woman who gave us, among others, The Mill on the Floss, Romola and Middlemarch.'
Canberra Times

' [A] beautifully edited and designed work ... the pleasures it offers to the reader of George Eliot are manifold ... It is a work long needed. That it is interpretatively, textually, and typographically so well done makes it worth the wait.'
Carol A. Martin, Boise State University

'... the real merit of this book is that it opens a whole field of these quietly resonating details, committed to the privacy of Eliot's treasured and closely guarded notebooks from 1854 to a few months before her death.'
Mark Wormald, The Review of English Studies

About the Author

George Eliot was born Mary Anne (later Marian) Evans on 22 November 1819 at Arbury Farm in Warwickshire, where her father was estate manager. When she was five months old, the family moved to a farmhouse at Griff, her beloved home until she was twenty-one. Because of her father’s position, the young Marian had access to the library at Arbury Hall and made full use of it. She boarded at school in Coventry, where she studied a considerable range of literature and excelled at English composition and piano playing.

After her mother’s death in 1836 she became her father’s housekeeper. In 1841 the family moved to Coventry, where Marian was introduced to the free-thinking Charles Bray and his wife Cara. Their social circle greatly enriched her life, influencing her reading, her thinking and her early career. Her father died in 1849 when she was 30 – well past the normal marriageable age – but he left her £100 a year which gave her a certain amount of independence. She moved to London and became a distinguished editor of the Westminster Review, where she met the journalist George Henry Lewes. Lewes was still married to his wife, who had left him and their children, so he and Marian were unable to marry. Despite this, they lived together until his death in 1878. Marian’s rejection by her friends, family and society in general over her common law marriage is reflected in The Mill on the Floss.

Lewes was extremely supportive of Marian’s artistic endeavors and it was he who first encouraged her to write fiction. The success of Adam Bede, published in 1859, confirmed her literary powers. She adopted the masculine name George Eliot partly to distance herself from ‘silly’ female romance writers but also to cover up the tricky subject of her marital status. The publication of The Mill on the Floss in 1860 led to intense speculation about the author and eventually Marian came forward. Despite her fears of being shunned, her marital situation did not affect her popularity and she was even introduced to Princess Louise, who was a fan.

Her last book was Daniel Deronda, which was published in 1876. After Lewes’s death she once again courted controversy by marrying John Cross, a man twenty years younger than herself. However, she died not long afterwards of kidney disease, on 22 December 1880, at the age of 61.

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Book Info

Publication date

28th September 2000


George Eliot

More books by George Eliot
Author 'Like for Like'


Cambridge University Press


474 pages


Autobiography: general
Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers
Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900
Diaries, letters & journals



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