Some of these "Author Focus" posts will also have a corresponding giveaway, so be on the lookout for those opportunities as well.
Today's Author Focus is on a personal favorite of mine-George Eliot. Before I get into some of the details and interesting tidbits of Eliot's life, I need to tell you why I feel such a strong connection to Eliot and her novels.
A few years ago, my grandmother became very sick (she had cancer). Since I was done with college and living at home, I would sometimes take her to her weekly doctor appointments. In the car, we would talk about anything and everything we could think of. She was also a huge reader, so books often came up. She mentioned one day that she wanted something different to read, so I was trying to rack my brain to think of a suggestion.
This was the same summer that I decided to make reading more classics a necessity (I think my rule was for every 3 "fun" books, I had to read a classic). Eliot was one of the first classics writers I discovered on my own, and having just finished Silas Marner, I suggested it to her. I ended up lending her my own copy. She ended up loving it, and I gave her the rest of the Eliot novels I owned (Including The Mill on the Floss, which I hadn't read yet). She loved them all!
Later that fall, she passed away. And now, whenever I look at my bookshelves and see my Eliot novels, I think of her. So Eliot will always be a favorite of mine. She reminds me of the wonderful woman my grandmother was and those weekly trips in the car.
I have been slowly discovering Eliot on my own since that time. I've made it through most of her longer works and just finished a shorter work earlier this week (The Lifted Veil). She is a write I admire, so I'm gong to give you just a little more information about her.
George Eliot's real name was Mary Anne Evans (she also went by Marian). She was born in 1818 and lived to 1880. She was a firecracker of a woman and seemed content with living her life on her own terms. She chose to write under a pen name for a number of reasons. First, she didn't want her work to be judged based on the fact that she was female. Many of her contemporary female writers focused on romance and she felt her novels were more than that. Evans wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, so she felt a male name would help her succeed. Second, she didn't want people poking into her private life and affairs. She wanted to separate herself from society's curiosity, which actually didn't work out for her.
One of the major scandals in her life was her affair and "marriage" to George Lewes. She met Lewes in 1851. Lewes was actually already married, but had an "open marriage" with his wife. When he met Evans/Eliot, they decided to live together and carry on as a married couple. This was okay with his wife, but obviously caused some scandal! It wasn't necessarily an unusual concept, since many of the other Victorians we're reading had affairs as well! I think what surprised most people is that they didn't try to hide their affair, or the fact they were living together while Lewes was legally married to another woman.
When Lewes died in 1878, Evans/Eliot was only alone for a short time. She met John Cross in 1880 and married him (legally). This also caused a bit of a scandal since he was 20 years younger than she was. Their marriage was short lived as she died in late 1880. Because of her lifestyle, she wasn't allowed to be buried in Westminster Abbey, but instead was buried in Highgate Cemetery. However, in 1980, a memorial was placed in Poet's Corner in her honor.
Eliot is most well-known for her depictions of rural life and society, which is one of my favorite aspects of her work. She manages to capture the true nature of her characters-their dreams, desires, and intricacies. I also love that she focuses on those individuals who fall outside the "norm" of society. And while her books can be lengthy, I think they are fast reads!
- Scenes from Clerical Life (1857)
- Adam Bede (1859)
- The Lifted Veil (1859)
- The Mill on the Floss (1860)
- Silas Marner (1861)
- Romola (1863)
- Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)
- Middlemarch (1871-1872)
- Daniel Deronda (1876)
- This giveaway will be open to anyone who lives in the United States (My international participants-there is a giveaway just for YOU RIGHT HERE)!
- You MUST be a participant of A Victorian Celebration to enter.
- You MUST be 13 years or older
- You do not have to follow me or subscribe to qualify
- You MUST leave me your e-mail so that I contact you if you win
- The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner.
- To enter, comment on this post with you intent to be entered.
- The giveaway will be open until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 EST.