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Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name, George Eliot, is one of the greatest literary figures in the world of English Literature. She is an inspiration for many women authors. She was born on 22 November 1819, at Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Besides being an English Novelist, she was also a poet, journalist, translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era.
As the third child of Robert Evans (1773–1849) and Christiana Evans (née Pearson, 1788–1836), the daughter of a local mill-owner, she used to spell her name differently at different times. Her father had her name recorded as Mary Anne for the baptismal purpose while it was spelled Mary Ann within the family. She changed her name to Marian and reverted back to Mary Ann in 1880 after marrying John Cross. Her memorial stone has her name as Mary Ann Cross(George Eliot).
Her full siblings were Christiana, known as Chrissey (1814–59), Isaac (1816–1890), and twin brothers who died a few days after birth in March 1821. She had a half-sister, Frances “Fanny” Evans Houghton (1805–82), and a half-brother Robert Evans from her father’s former marriage to Harriet Poynton (1780-1809).
She went to Miss Latham’s school in Attleborough with her sister, Chrissey, from the age of five to nine, followed by Mrs. Wallington’s school in Nuneaton from the age of 9-13 and Miss Franklin’s school in Coventry from the age of 13-16. She wrote letters to her evangelical teacher, Maria Lewis, from Wallington’s school. She enjoyed reading and was highly intelligent. But her father didn’t expect her to get married because of her average looks.
Mary Ann’s mother died in 1836 and she returned home to take care of the house. She continued her correspondence with Maria Lewis. When she was 21, her brother Isaac got married. She and her father moved to to Foleshill near Coventry. She came into contact with Charles and Cara Bray who had a great influence in her life. In fact, Bray published some of Evans’s own earliest writing, such as reviews, in his newspaper the Coventry Herald and Observer. Mary Ann Evans met the literary greats like Robert Owen, Herbert Spencer, Harriet Martineau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. She was introduced to the world of writing and reading the works of David Strauss and Ludwig Feuerbach who cast aspersions on the literal truth of Biblical texts. Evans’ first published work was the English translation of Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet as The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined (1846), which she completed after it had been left incomplete by Elizabeth “Rufa” Brabant, another member of the “Rosehill Circle”.
She moved to London in 1850 and referred to herself as Marian Evans. She wanted to be a writer and took up her residence with John Chapman, the publisher of her Strauss’ translation. Chapman had purchased The Westminster Review, a left-wing journal. She became his assistant editor. She supported the lower class people and voiced her opinion against organized religious practices through her articles and reviews and commented on contemporary ideas of the time. She also concentrated on the business side of the Review. She continued working for the review until the first half of 1854 and supported the 1848 Revolutions throughout continental Europe. She took up classes in Mathematics in 1850-51 at at the Ladies College in Bedford Square, later known as Bedford College, London. She met philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes (1817–78) in 1851 and they decided to live together in 1854. She married John Walter Cross (1840–1924) on 16 May 1880, changing her name from Mary Ann Evans Lewes, to Mary Ann Cross.
She passed away on 22 December 1880 (aged 61) at Chelsea, London, England, leaving behind a treasure trove of her exemplary books to the admirers of English literature.
Her noted works:
Adam Bede, 1859
The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Silas Marner, 1861
Felix Holt, the Radical, 1866
Daniel Deronda, 1876
Knowing That I Must Shortly Put Off ThisTabernacle, 1840
In a London Drawing room, 1865
A Minor Prophet, 1865
Two Lovers, 1866
The Choir Invisible, 1867
The Spanish Gypsy, 1868
Brother and Sister, 1869
How Lisa Loved the King, 1869
The Legend of Jubal, 1874
I Grant You Ample Leave, 1874
Evenings Come and Go, Love, 1878
Self and Life, 1879
A College Breakfast Party, 1879
The Death of Moses, 1879
Digital facsimile of manuscript “Quarry for Middlemarch”, MS Lowell 13, Houghton Library, Harvard University
Translation of Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet (The Life of Jesus, Critically Examined) Volume 2 by David Strauss, 1846
Translation of Das Wesen des Christentums (The Essence of Christianity) by Ludwig Feuerbach, 1854
Translation of The Ethics of Benedict de Spinoza by Benedict de Spinoza, 1856″
Three Months in Weimar”, 1855
“Silly Novels by Lady Novelists”, 1856
“The Natural History of German Life”, 1856
Scenes of Clerical Life, 1857
The Sad Fortunes of the Rev. Amos Barton
Mr Gilfil’s Love Story
The Lifted Veil, 1859
Brother Jacob, 1864
“The Influence of Rationalism”, 1865
Impressions of Theophrastus Such, 1879
Review of John Ruskin’s Modern Painters in Westminster Review, April 1856
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5 thoughts on “DELIGHTFUL SATURDAYS WITH MY FAVORITE AUTHORS AND POETS (31)”
Wonderful piece! Your research effort is amazing. 🌺🌺🌺
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Thank you so much, dear Luisa. ☺☺♥️♥️
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Oh my goodness Aparna, you painted a vivid picture of telling us about the life and transition of Mary Ann Evans, known as our beloved George Eliot. You know, during her time poetry and literature were of patriarchal domination. Women were barely recognized for their writing. As George Eliot however, Mary Ann Evans proved that women not only have a place in literature, but we are leading the pack by leaps and bounds. Thanks so much for sharing this spotlight on her my dear friend. Hugs, smooches, and a quill pen with ink! ✍🏼🤩💖😍📕📚📗🥰💋😘👏🏼
Wow! Dear Aparna, amazing how you described the life and all changes .
Wonderful woman Mary Ann. Well George Elliot was fantastic. Yoou are an awesome woman dear.
Thank’s for share, dear friend. Have an amazing day full of blessings an all the things makes you smile. Send you a big hug!