Contemporaries on George Eliot's Life

An understanding of how George Eliot’s contemporaries were reading and responding to her life and works helps us appreciate her reach, her fame, and her historical significance.

Biographical Studies: In this section, you will find assessments of Eliot’s life by her contemporaries—everything from brief commentary in periodicals, to chapters in collective biographies, to complete, book-length biographies.

Most significant is the 1885 biography written by her husband, John Walter Cross, which includes many of Eliot's letters and journal entries. Reviews of Cross’s biography are collected here for the first time. In our Correspondence section, every one of the 894 letters Cross collected is sortable and searchable.

When she died after a brief illness at the age of sixty-one, George Eliot was one of England's most famous literary celebrities. Obituary notices are well represented in this collection, including several later tributes written by famous authors whose own work was influenced by Eliot’s, including Henry James and Virginia Woolf. 

It is interesting to note how often early biographical sketches included incorrect information. We retain these, of course, for the benefit of comparison and the historical interest of these records.

Backus, Truman Jay and Helen Dawes Brown
Backus, Truman Jay, and Helen Dawes Brown. The Great English Writers From Chaucer to George Eliot: With Selections Illustrating Their Work. New York, 1889.
1889

Ahlers, Lena C
Ahlers, Lena C. "George Eliot." Daughters Known to Fame, Albert Whitman
& Co., 1935, pp. 97-102
1935

Unknown
"The Death of George Eliot." Standard [London], 24 December 1880, p. 3.
1880-12-24

Spencer, Herbert
Spencer, Herbert. An Autobiography Vol 2. London, Williams and Norgate, 1904.

Timmins, Sam
Timmins, Sam. A History of Warwickshire. London, E. Stock, 1889.
1889

Wakeman, Edgar L.
Wakeman, Edgar L. "George Eliot's Home." Pittsburgh Dispatch, 7 May 1892, p. 5.
1892

Unknown
"A Week with George Eliot." Temple Bar, 1 Jan 1885, pp. 226-232.
1885-01-01

K. G.
K. G. "A Sonnet: In Remembrance." Temple Bar, 1 Jan. 1883, p. 123.
1883-01-01

Spencer, Herbert
Spencer, Herbert. An Autobiography Vol 1. New York, D. Appleton, 1904.
1904

Raimond, C. E. (Elizabeth Robins)
Raimond, C. E. (Elizabeth Robins). George Mandeville's Husband. New York, D. Appleton and company, 1894.
1894

Pearson, Karl
Pearson, Karl. "''The Woman's Question'." The Ethic of Freethought: A Selection of Essays and Lectures. London: Unwin, 1888, pp. 370-94.

Buchanan, Robert
Buchanan, Robert. "A Talk With George Eliot." A Look Around Literature, London: Ward & Downey, 1887, pp. 218-228.
1887-ND-ND

Haldane, Elizabeth S.
Haldane, Elizabeth S. George Eliot and Her Times; A Victorian Study. New York, D. Appleton & Company, 1927.
1927

Unknown
"The Hull Daily Packet: Monday, May 10, 1880." Hull Daily Packet, 10 May 1880, p. 2.
1880-05-10

Newdigate-Newdiate, Anne Emily Garnier
Newdigate-Newdigate, Anne Emily Garnier. The Cheverels of Cheverel Manor. London, Longmans, Green, and co., 1898.
1898

Walters, J. Cuming
Walters, J. Cuming."Glimpses of George Eliot's Warwickshire Scenery." Bygone Warwickshire, edited by William Andrews. Hull : W. Andrews & co, 1893, pp. 261-279.
1893

Hamilton, C. J.
Hamilton, C. J. "George Eliot (Mary Anne Cross)." Women Writers: Their Works and Ways, vol 2, London, Ward, Lock, Bowden & Co, 1892, pp. 216-253.
1892

Morley, John
Morley, John. "The Life of George Eliot." Critical Micellanies. London, Macmillan and Co., 1904.
1904

Unknown
"News." Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 6 Apr. 1888, p. 2.
1888-04-06

Housing, Maskel;
Hickson, Mary
Housing, Maskel and Mary Hickson. "George Eliot and George Henry Lewes." London Echo, 15 Jun. 1895, p. 4.
1895-06-15

Unknown
"Recollections of George Eliot." Westminster Budget, 26 Jun. 1896, p. 14.
1907-03-16

Sharp, William
Sharp, William. "The Country of George Eliot." Literary Geography. London, Pall Mall Publications, 1904, p. 74-86.
1904

Unknown
"Ipswich Literary Society." Ipswich Journal, 18 July 1896, p. 8.
1896-07-18

Unknown
"Days of the Week." Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 20 Dec. 1896, p. 8.
1896-12-20

Unknown
"In the Sale Rooms." Pall Mall Gazette, 21 May 1890, p. 3.
1890-05-21

Unknown
"The Manuscripts of George Eliot's Works." Pall Mall Gazette, 18 July 1891, p. 6.
1891-07-18

Unknown
"Literary Notes." Morning Post, 7 Oct. 1891, p. 3.
1891-10-07

Unknown
"Obituary." Yorkshire Herald, 28 Nov. 1896, p. 5.
1896-11-28

Unknown
"Local Intelligence." Northern Warder and Bi-weekly Courier and Argus, 13 July 1880, p. 2.
1880-07-13

Unknown
"Some Famous Authors." Blackburn Standard, 22 July 1899, p. 9.
1899-07-22

Reid, T. Wemyss
Reid, T. Wemyss. "'George Eliot.'" Standard, 29 Dec. 1880, p. 2.
1880-12-29

Unknown
"Domestic Intelligence." Bury and Norwich Post, 4 Jan. 1881, p. 2.
1881-01-04

Unknown
"London Gossip." York Herald, 27 Feb. 1885, p. 5.
1885-02-27

Unknown
"Literature, Science, & Art." Bucks Herald, 5 Feb. 1881, p. 3.
1881-02-05

Unknown
"Magazines for February." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 1 Feb. 1881, p. 3.
1881-02-01

Unknown
"Gossip of the Week." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 21 Sept. 1895, p. 2.
1895-09-21

Comparison of the successes of George Eliot and Anthony Trollope in the serials.
"From Our London Correspondent." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 23 Mar. 1876, p. 5.
1876-03-23

Unknown
"Tit-Bits From 'Truth." Portsmouth Evening News, 11 Mar. 1891, p. 2.
1891-03-11

Unknown
"Literature, Science, and Art." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 5 Feb. 1881, p. 9.
1881-02-05

Unknown
"Social Record." Hull Daily Mail, 12 July 1917, p. 2.
1917-07-12

Unknown
"Man, Woman, and the Vote." Hull Daily Mail, 29 Mar. 1912, p. 4.
1912-03-29

Unknown
"Religious Services." Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 5 Dec. 1887, p. 3.
1887-12-05

Unknown
"A Link with 'Mr. Gilfil's Love Story.'" Tamworth Herald, 21 June 1924, p. 3.
192-06-21

Unknown
"Literature." Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 5 Apr. 1885, p. 5.
1885-04-05

Unknown
"Literature, Science, and Art." Belfast News-Letter, 7 Feb. 1881, p. 7.
1881-02-07

Unknown
"Death of 'George Eliot.'" Birmingham Daily Post, 24 Dec. 1880, p. 8.
1880-12-24

Unknown
"American Fiction." Aberdeen Journal, 7 Jan. 1880, p. 2.
1880-01-07

Unknown
"The Year's Obituary." Derby Mercury, 2 Jan. 1884, p. 5.
1884-01-02

Unknown
"From A London Correspondent." Newcastle Courant, 13 Feb. 1885, p. 4.
1885-02-13

Unknown
"February Magazines." Newcastle Courant, 20 Feb. 1885, p. 6.
1885-02-20