George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Anne Evans, who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1819. She spent her early life in the country, nursing a sick father, and beginning to develop the ideas that she would later explore in her writing. After the death of Mr. Evans, she travelled through Europe and eventually moved to London, where she became the editor of the â€œWestminster Reviewâ€. There she met George Henry Lewes, a married man at the time, who would be her companion until his death in 1878.
In 1856, she decided to try her hand at writing fiction, something she had always wanted to do. With encouragement from Lewes, she wrote what later became SCENES OF CLERICAL LIFE. It was published in 1857, under the name of George Eliot. ADAM BEDE, the following year, became a huge sensation in the literary world. When the authorâ€™s identity was discovered, her publisher was afraid to print her next work because of the controversy surrounding the Lewesâ€™ marriage. However, his fears proved unfounded, and George Eliot continued writing.
She produced several other books, of which the most famous is MIDDLEMARCH, a tale of life in a fictional English midlands town before the Reform Bill of 1832. Lewes passed away in 1878, and after mourning him for two years Evans accepted the proposal of John Cross, a man twenty years her junior. In 1880, after only seven months of marriage, George Eliot died of a sudden illness. She left behind her a legacy as a humane freethinker, and the author of novels that paved the way for modern character portrayals.