The Women of Middlemarch

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George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)-1819-1880-a prolific and successful writer of the Victorian era, lived an unorthodox life, vastly different from that of other women of her times. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons for having a pen-name was to protect herself from prying and disapproving eyes; the other-which prompted the adoption of a male pseudonym-was that most women writers of her day confined themselves to romantic themes, and Mary Ann, who wished to be judged on the basis of her writings alone, realized that her gender could result in readers being prejudiced.


This meant that they lived reasonably well. Mary Ann received a good education, and also had access to the library at the estate. Her books reveal her background-her stories are replete with classical allusions. Living on the estate Mary Ann was also able to observe the lives of people who lived and worked there, who were much poorer to her. This gave her an insight into their circumstances, which influenced her writing.
She was brought up as an adherent of the Anglican Church. As a young woman, Evans came in contact with several notable thinkers of her day-Herbert Spencer, Robert Owen and Ralph Waldo Emerson. In 1858, she became the assistant editor of The Westminster Review. It was unusual in those days to see a woman in a position like that, and mixing so freely with men. She also lived with George Henry Lewes, the critic and philosopher. George Lewes, who had an 'open marriage' with Agnes Jerwis, who had relationships with other men and also children from these relationships. ...
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