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 Biography of George Eliot (1819-1880)

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مُساهمةموضوع: Biography of George Eliot (1819-1880)   الأربعاء أكتوبر 15, 2008 1:13 pm

George Eliot


George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans. The author was born on November 22, 1819, at Arbury Farm, Warwickshire, and was the youngest of five children. Mary Anne was afforded the privileges of a private education. She enjoyed books and learning from a young age; she was introspective and quiet, much like her character Dorothea in Middlemarch, so she was a bit of an anomaly among young women of the time. Unfortunately, Mary Anne was forced to leave school at the age of 19, when her mother died in early 1839. Her father continued to indulge her love of learning, purchasing books for her and helping her to learn German and Italian.
In 1841, Mary Anne's father moved them to the larger town of Foleshill, where Mary Anne met Charles and Cara Bray, who would be good friends of hers. Through the Brays, Mary Anne met other friends, and she was introduced to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mary Anne soon, however, became very self-conscious about her unconventionality among this group of friends. She also began to renounce her faith in Christianity, which caused distance between Mary Anne and her father. Mr. Evans died in 1849, leaving Mary Anne little money in his will.
Through the Brays, she met John Chapman, a publisher and bookseller from London. Chapman and Mary Anne became good friends, and he asked Mary Anne to become the behind-the-scenes editor for the Westminster Review. Mary Anne worked at the Review for two years, despite the fact that she got no credit for her work. In 1851, Mary Anne met George Henry Lewes, and they became romantically involved. Though Lewes was already married, he and his wife had been separated for some years and his wife was living with another man. Lewes and Mary Anne soon decided to live together as husband and wife, despite the scandal it would cause. Mary Anne's decision meant a break with the Brays, who disapproved of her decision. She and George were very happy, despite the stir that their relationship caused.
Mary Anne Evans's transformation into the fiction writer George Eliot began in 1856, when Mary Anne decided to try her hand at writing novels. In 1858, George Eliot's second novel, Adam Bede, became a critical and popular success; soon after, George Eliot's identity as Mary Anne "Lewes" became known. Though this disclosure did not threaten her writing career, she was forced to put up with an increasing amount of personal criticism as her literary fame as George Eliot grew.
Adam Bede was followed by two more highly successful novels also set in the English Midlands, The Mill on the Floss (1860) and Silas Marner (1861). Encouraged by her success, Eliot began exploring continental and political themes in her next works: Romola (1863), which was set in Renaissance Italy, and Felix Holt, The Radical (1866), which depicted the political controversy surrounding the Reform Bill of 1832. Three years later Eliot published The Spanish Gypsy (1869), a long narrative poem set during the Spanish Inquisition.
Mary Anne began writing Middlemarch in 1869. The novel was serialized through 1871 and 1872, and it became a great success, making George Eliot and Mary Anne even more famous. By this time, public sentiment had begun to soften toward Mary Anne. George Lewes and Mary Anne became very social and popular as Mary Anne's writings continued to make a great deal of money for the couple. They continued living together until 1878, when Lewes suddenly became ill. Lewes's death in November of 1878 was heartbreaking for the writer, and she began a period of intense mourning that lasted more than a year.
John Cross, the couple's "business manager" of sorts, became very concerned about Mary Anne's well-being during this trying period. He proposed marriage to her several times until she finally accepted in 1880. Their union was one of companionship rather than romance; Cross was more than 20 years younger than Mary Anne, who turned 61 soon after their marriage. In December 1880, after only seven months of marriage, Mary Anne became seriously ill. She passed away in her sleep on December 22, 1880, and was buried next to her lifelong companion, George Lewes.

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