Originally published in 1861, "Silas Marner: the Weaver of Raveloe", is the third novel by George Eliot. It tells a moral story about a weaver and how his life changes. The story begins with Silas, who has been displaced from his … [Read more...] about Silas Marner
George Eliot was born as Mary Ann Evans on November 22, 1819, in Warwickshire, England. Her father, Robert Evans, was the manager of the Arbury Hall Estate and her mother was Christiana Evans, the daughter of a local mill owner. She had a sister and brother and a half sister. Since Mary Ann was considered to be too intelligent and not pretty enough to land a husband, she was given the best education. She studied all the classics, including Greek, which came to influence her writing.
Coming from a devoutly religious family, Mary Ann questioned the beliefs, which angered her father later in life. When she was sixteen her mother died and Mary Ann quit school in order to keep house for her father. She also began to write, and by the time of his death when she was thirty, she had become a published magazine author. She became friends with literary people, joining Charles and Cara Bray, who led groups of writers including Ralph Waldo Emerson. Five days after her father's death, Mary Ann traveled to Geneva, where she settled for a while.
In 1851, she met George Henry Lewes. Although he was already legally married, the two began to live together in 1854. She began to write under the pen name George Eliot because she wanted her books to be taken seriously. It is commonly assumed that her pen name was an homage to her lover. George, which was his first name, and Eliot which was supposed to be a code for "to L – I owe it." There were a lot of women writing at the time, but most women wrote romances, and that's not what she wanted to write.
With the success of her first books, Eliot began to have a lot of fans. When she finally came out as the writer, Mary Ann, who had been shunned by polite society because of her relationship with a married man, was now accepted by the Queen, who never missed one of her books. Eliot was even introduced to Princess Louise, the daughter of Queen Victoria.
In 1878 George Lewes died, and Mary Ann went on to marry John Cross, two years later. Although her brother decided to forgive her and welcome her back into the family with a legitimate marriage, she still scandalized society since John was twenty years younger than her. During their honeymoon, he tried to commit suicide by jumping off of a balcony into the Grand Canal in Venice. The two settled into married life in Chelsea. She married him in May of 1880 and by December, she had succumbed to a recurring kidney infection coupled with a throat infection. She died at the age of sixty-one.
George Eliot could not be buried in Westminster Abbey because of her lapsed beliefs in the Christian faith, and her relationship that bordered on polygamy with George Lewes. So, she was buried in Highgate Cemetery next to George Lewes. A memorial stone was erected in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey in 1980, a century after her death.