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.

[A. R.]
[A. R.] "George Eliot." Westminster Budget, 18 Jul. 1902, p. 21.
1902-07-18

A. H.
A. H. "George Eliot." Australian Journal, 1 Oct 1876, p. 102.
1876-10-01

Abbot, Willis J.
Abbot, Willis J., Notable Women in History: The Lives of Women Who in All Ages, All Lands, and in All Womenly Occupations Have Won Fame and Put Their Imprint on the World's History, 1913.
1913

Allardyce, Alexander
Allardyce, Alexander. "George Eliot." Blackwood's Magazine, Feb. 1881, pp. 255–268.
1881-02 (Feb)

Ames, Charles Gordon
Ames, Charles Gordon. George Eliot's Two Marriages. Philadelphia: George H Buchanan and Company, 1886.
1886

Austin, Alfred
Austin, Alfred. "George Eliot." Nottinghamshire Guardian, 31 Dec. 1880, p. 3.
1880-12-31

Author Unknown
"George Eliot." Westminster Review, vol. 124, July 1885, pp. 161-208
1885-07 (July)

Author Unknown [R. W. L.]
[R. W. L.] "The Book World: Women Novelists of To-Day." Black and White, 01 Oct. 1904, p. 484.
1904-10-01

Betham-Edwards, Mathilde
Betham-Edwards, Mathilde. Temple Bar, Vol. 73, 1885, Pgs. 226-232.
1885

Betham-Edwards, Matilda
Betham-Edwards, Matilda. Mid-Victorian Memories. Macmillan, 1919.
1919

Blind, Mathilde
Blind, Mathilde. George Eliot. Boston, Little, Brown, & Company, 1904.
1904 (First ed 1883)

Bolton, Sarah K.
Bolton, Sarah K. The Lives of Girls Who Became Famous. Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1886, pp. 213-39.
1886

Boyce, Arthur E.
Boyce, Arthur E. "Letters on Men and Things: On George Eliot." Kentish Mail Greenwich and Deptford Observer, 12 Mar. 1909, p. 3.
1909-03-12

Boyce, Arthur E.
Boyce, Arthur E. "Letters on Men and Things: On George Eliot (Continued)." Kentish Mail Greenwich And Deptford Observer, 19 Mar. 1909, p. 3.
1909-03-19

Boyesen, Hjalmar
Boyesen, Hjalmar. "Eliot as a Novelist." Milwaukee Sentinel, 3 Feb. 1891, p. 2.
1891-02-03

Bray, Charles
Bray, Charles. Phases of Opinion and Experience during a Long Life: an Autobiography. Longman, Greens, and Co., 1884.
1884

Browning, Oscar
Browning, Oscar. Life of George Eliot. Walter Scott, 1890.
1890

Buchanan, Robert
Buchanan, Robert. A Talk With George Eliot & George Eliot's Life, A Look Round Literature. London Ward and Downey 1887, Pgs. 218-226/314-321.
1887

Buchanan, Robert
Buchanan, Robert. "An Afternoon with George Eliot." Rocky Mountain News, 24 Jan. 1885, p. 6.
1885-01-24

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

Burke, Agnes and F. B. Branson.
Burke, Agnes and F. B. Branson. "Some Centenary Observations of George Eliot." The Sun, 23 Nov. 1919.
1919-11-123

C. J.
C. J. "Books and their Writers." Sunday Times, 22 Jun. 1902, p. 2.
1902-06-22

Chadwick, R.
Chadwick, R. "Shepperton Church." Standard, 29 July 1889, p. 3.
1889-07-29

Chadwick, R.
Chadwick, R. "Shepperton Church." Standard, 5 Aug. 1889, p. 6.
1889-08-05

Clarke, Isabel C.
Clarke, Isabel C. Six Portraits (1935) Books for Libraries Press Inc. Freeport, NY, 1967, pp. 137-192.
1935

Clifford, Lucy
Clifford, Lucy. “A Remembrance of George Eliot.” Nineteenth Century 74, July 1913, pp. 109-118.
1913-07 (July)

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

Conway, Monoure D
Conway, Monoure D. "Emerson and George Eliot." Times, 31 Jan. 1883, p. 7.
1883-01-31

Cooke, George Willis
Cooke, George Willis. George Eliot: A Critical Study of Her Life, Writings, and Philosophy. March 1884
1884

Cooke, George Willis
Cooke, George Willis. George Eliot: A Critical Study. Boston and New York. Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1884.
1883

Cross, A. F.
Cross, A. F. "Proposed George Eliot Memorial Library." Standard, 3 Mar. 1896, p. 3.
1896-03-03

Cross, John Walter
Eliot, George and J. W. (John Walter) Cross. George Eliot's Life: As Related In Her Letters And Journals. Cabinet Edition, Vol. 1-3, William Blackwood and Sons, 1885. George Eliot Archive, edited by Beverley Park Rilett, https://GeorgeEliotArchive.org.
1885

Crowder, C. H.
Crowder, C. H. "The Late George Eliot and Gainsborough." Hull Packet and East Riding Times, 25 Mar. 1881.
1881-03-25

Deakin, Mary H.
Deakin, Mary H. The Early Life of George Eliot. Manchester University Press, 1913.
1913

Dowden, Edward
Dowden, Edward. "[A Review of] George Eliot's Life as Related in her Letters and Journals." Academy, no. 666, 7 Feb. 1885, pp. 89–91.
1885-02-07

Downes, Annie Sawyer
Downes, Annie Sawyer. "George Eliot. One of her Receptions. Face— Figure—Manner—Voice—Dress," New York Daily Tribune, March 25, 1876, Pg. 7
1876-03-25

Downs, Annie Sawyer.
Downs, Annie Sawyer. "A Visit to George Eliot." Congregationalist, 28 May 1879, p. 3.
1879-05-28

Draper, E. Herbert
Draper, E. Herbert "George Eliot's Associations with Derbyshire." Derby Mercury, 12 Jan. 1881, p. 2.
1881-01-12

Draper, E. Herbert
Draper, E. Herbert "George Eliot's Associations with Derbyshire." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 6 Jan. 1881, p. 6.
1881-01-06

Draper, E. Herbert
Draper, E. Herbert. "George Eliot's Associations with Derbyshire." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 8 Jan. 1881, p. 3.
1881-01-08

E. M.
E. M. "George Eliot and Immortality." London Echo, 19 Oct. 1891, p. 4.
1891-10-19

E. W. B.
E. W. B. "George Eliot and Joseph Liggins." Leeds Mercury, 7 Feb. 1885.
1885-02-07

Escott, T.H.S
Escott, T.H.S. "Lions and Lionesses in the 60s and Since." Platform, Press, Politics & Play, Being Pen and Ink Sketches of Contemporary Celebrities from the Tone to the Thames, via Avon and Isis. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd., 1895, pp. 256-267.
1895

F. D. U.
"'George Eliot' and Wirksworth." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 23 May 1904, p. 7.
1904-05-23

F. H. A.
F. H. A. "The Country of George Eliot." Tamworth Herald, 15 Oct. 1904, p. 2.
1904-10-15

Fairfax, Beatrice
Fairfax, Beatrice. "Love the Mighty Necromancy." El Paso Herald, 20 Apr. 1918.
1918-04-20

Field, Kate
Field, Kate. "Recollections." Cincinnati Commercial, 26 Dec. 1880, p. 6.
1880-12-26

Field, Kate
Field, Kate. "English Authors in Florence," Pgs. 860-871, December 1864.
1864

Field, Kate
Field, Kate. "George Eliot." Boston Daily Advertiser, 29 Dec. 1880.
1880-12-29

Field, Kate
Field, Kate. "The Late George Eliot." Ottawa Free Trader, 15 Jan. 1881, p. 7.
1881-01-15