Mary Ann Evans, better known by the pen name George Eliot (22 November 1819 - 22 December 1880), was an English novelist. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, whose novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity.
She was a daughter of an estate agent Robert Evans and Christina Evans.
born on a farm on the Arbury Hall Estate near Nuneaton.
She was the youngest and had 4 other siblings.
Her brother Isaac being her closet playmate.
In 1828, Mary Ann enrolled at Mrs. Wallington's boarding school
She met Miss Maria Lewis the schools governess.
At 13 years of age she attended Miss Franklins school
She rid herself of her mid-land accent and took on a more prestigious tone of voice.
She excelled at:
Her poetry and fiction was greatly admired.
Her mother died on February 1839
At 19, left school to nurse and look after her father.
Her father bought her all the books she desired and arranged for her to receive German and Italian lessons.
Began to suffer from kidney stones in 1874 and was in much pain.
On November 30, 1878 Lewes died.
His death devastated her.
April 9, 1880 Cross married Mary Ann. She was 61 and he was 40.
After 7 months into their marriage Mary Ann's kidney problem became more violent.
She died at 10 o'clock the night of December 22, 1880.
She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure that her works were taken seriously. Female authors published freely under their own names, but Eliot wanted to ensure that she was not seen as merely a writer of romances. An additional factor may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes.
Some of her Works:
Scenes Of a Clerical Life, 1858
Adam Bede, 1859 : a tragic love story in which the model for the title character is said to be Eliot’s father.
The Mill on the Floss, 1860 : a story of a destructive family relations.
Silas Marner, 1861
Felix Holt, the Radical, 1866
Middlemarch, 1871-72 : her greatest novel, was inspired by her life. The story follows the sexual and intellectual frustrations of Dorothea Brooke.
The Legend of Jubal, 1874
Daniel Deronda, 1876
Eliot's most famous work, Middlemarch, is a turning point in the history of the novel. Making masterful use of a counter pointed plot, Eliot presents the stories of a number of denizens of a small English town on the eve of the Reform Bill of 1832. The main characters, Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, each long for exceptional lives but are powerfully constrained by their own unrealistic expectations as well as conservative society. The novel is notable for its deep psychological insight and sophisticated character portraits.
Throughout her career, Eliot wrote with a politically sharp pen. From Adam Bede to The Mill on the Floss and the frequently-read Silas Marner, Eliot presented the cases of social outsiders and small town persecution of that which they consider alien. Felix Holt, the Radical and The Legend of Jubal were overtly political novels, and political crisis is at the heart of Middlemarch.
As an author, Eliot was not only very successful in sales, but she was, and remains, one of the most widely praised for her style and clarity of thought. Eliot's sentence structures are clear, patient, and well balanced, and she mixes plain statement and unsettling irony with rare poise. Her commentaries are never without sympathy for the characters, and she never stoops to being arch or flip with the emotions in her stories. Villains, heroines and bystanders are all presented with awareness and full motivation.
Victorian Era 1832-1901
Literary works of this era revolves around a conflict between those in power and the common masses of laborers and the poor. There is a special emphasis on the life of sweatshop and urban poor for the purpose of reformation. Literature covers country versus city life, sexual discretion, strained coincidences, romantic triangles, heroines in physical danger, aristocratic villains, misdirected letters, bigamous marriages.
Her Literary Style
ironic and subtle humor as well as streaks compassion.
Her plots revolve around her characters lives in rural small towns their responsibilities
emphasis is made on moral values
when comparing her with Charles Dickens
Dickens doesn't state or pursue the importance of the characters origins
Eliot make it clear that your origin and your loyalty to it is the only way to move and prosper.
Eliot does not strive for the imaginative or fantasy genre
she seeks plots that endure much realism
George Eliot's first novel, Adam Bede, introduces the theme of emerging social consciousness that marks her later work, where egoistic characters gain a broader awareness of human interdependence through an experience of suffering. Eliot believed, would be heightened by the private experience of reading. In Adam Bede, the narrator's characterization of Hetty Sorrel constructs narcissism as a specifically female form of egoism that not only determines Hetty's permanent isolation, but also promotes the moral recovery of the male-centered community; psychologically detached, Hetty becomes the spectacle of irredeemable suffering necessary to inspire reformed human relations in Hayslope.
Eliot's most famous work, Middlemarch, is a turning point in the history of the novel. Making masterful use of a counter pointed plot, Eliot presents the stories of a number of denizens of a small English town on the eve of the Reform Bill of 1832. The main characters, Dorothea Brooke and Tertius Lydgate, each long for exceptional lives but are powerfully constrained by their own unrealistic expectations as well as conservative society. The novel is notable for its deep psychological insight and sophisticated character portraits. Some of the important themes of Middlemarch would be human hypocrisy and weakness as well as gender relations and the limited role of women. The latter in particular is a major theme in the novel especially concerning marriage and happiness.
In Silas Marner George Eliot combines humour and rich symbolism with a historically precise setting to create an extraordinary tale of love and hope. This novel explores the issues of redemptive love, the notion of community, the role of religion, and the status of the gentry and family. While religion and religious devotion play a strong part in this text, Eliot concerns herself, as always, with matters of ethics, and it is clear that for her, ethics exist apart from religion. Although it seems like a simple moral story with a happy ending, George Eliot's text includes several pointed criticisms on organised religion, the role of the gentry, and the impact of industrialisation. It was written in the period during Industrial Revolution and may be a reaction against it.