"Some days, perhaps, George Eliot will undergo the fate of Goethe. We shall know how she spent every week of her existence, and how far the scenes of her novels, even the most sensational, are records of her own trials and experience."
As prophesied by George Eliot's contemporary, Oscar Browning, the George Eliot Archive team has created two interactive chronology models where researchers can find details about how Eliot spent nearly “every week of her existence”. This comprehensive and yet condensed model serves biographers or anyone interested in the biographical context of Eliot's published writing.
A George Eliot Chronology by Timothy Hands (1989) provides the foundational information for our digital project. Our content editors have expanded it with additional biographical information gleaned from Eliot’s letters and journals. Our programmers have transformed more than 3,000 dated entries (~20,000 words) into data visualization models—first a branching model, then a calendar model with a search option. Iterations of these models were nominated in 2022 and 2023 for Best Data Visualization in the annual Digital Humanities Awards @DHAwards.
For the first branching model, browse for day-level information by opening (clicking on) first the decade, then year, and then months and dates you wish to see.
For the second model, which shows at a glance which calendar dates contain data, simply hover over the colored squares to view details. When you search for a term, dates containing the term turn red and a copyable list of search results appears in a text box.
Coming soon will be a linear model with an expanding, dynamic timeline feature.
Scroll down for all models.
Parenthetical citations: "Letters" refers to the George Eliot Letters, vols 1-9, edited by Gordon Haight (Yale UP, 1954-1978); "Cross" refers to George Eliot's Life as Related in her Journals and Letters (1885) by John Cross (George Eliot Archive, 2018); Journals refers to The Journals of George Eliot, edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnson (Cambridge UP, 1998).
Acknowledgements: The Archive thanks Timothy Hands for permission to adapt and transform his original work. Editorial assistants including Antje Anderson, Charlotte Fiehn, Tom Joudry, Brenda MacKay, Kathleen McCormack, Bob Muscutt, Beverley Rilett, and Aurora Wheeler, contributed content and revision suggestions to the chronology, while Shane Clegg, Riley Jhi, and Libo Sun all contributed to the open-source programming.
Your suggestions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.