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.

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"Personal." Press and Tribune, 6 Jun. 1859, p. 3.
1859-06-06

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"The Authorship of Adam Bede." Times, 6 Jun. 1859, p. 10.
1859-06-06

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"News." Westmorland Gazette, 13 Aug. 1859, p. 7.
1859-08-13

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"News Item." Boston Daily Advertiser, 20 Aug. 1859.
1859-08-20

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"News." Westmorland Gazette, 14 Sept. 1861, p. 7.
1861-09-14

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"News." Westmorland Gazette and Kendal Advertiser, 17 May 1862, p. 3.
1862-05-17

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

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"English Authoresses." Belmont Chronicle, 14 Jun. 1866.
1866-06-14

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"How English Authoresses Look and Act." Daily Cleveland Herald, 18 Jun. 1866.
1866-06-18

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"Gossip About 'George Eliot.'" Clarksville Weekly Chronicle, 30 Nov. 1866, p. 1.
1866-11-30

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"Literary Notes." Delaware Tribune, 18 Apr. 1867.
1867-04-18

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"Literary Sketches." Chicago Tribune, 30 May 1869.
1869-05-30

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"Literature, Science, and the Stage." Western Times, 18 Apr. 1871, p. 2.
1871-04-18

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"George Eliot." Alexandria Gazette, 18 Mar. 1872, p. 1.
1872-03-18

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"Broughty Ferry." Dundee Courier and Argus, 25 Feb. 1873.
1873-02-25

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"George Eliot." Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 7 Apr. 1873, p. 4.
1873-04-07

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"Among Our Exchanges." Congregationalist, 10 Apr. 1873.
1873-04-10

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"Charles Sumner." Daily Evening Bulletin, 1 May 1873.
1873-05-01

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"American Portraits of London Celebrities." Dundee Courier and Argus, 19 May 1873.
1873-05-19

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"American Portraits of London Celebrities." Dundee Courier and Argus, 20 May 1873, p. 6.
1873-05-20

White, R. G.
White, R. G. "Something on George Eliot's Personal Apperance" Burlington Weekly Free Press, 8 Aug 1873, p. 1.
1873-08-08

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"An Authoress's Charm." Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 10 Nov. 1873, p. 6.
1873-11-10

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"News Item." Independent Statesman, 12 Feb. 1874, p. 158.
1874-02-12

Galatea
Galatea. "Four Famous Women." Inter Ocean, 9 Jul. 1875, p. 2.
1875-07-09

Unknown
"An Impression of George Eliot." Lowell Daily Citizen and News, 20 Aug. 1875.
1875-08-20

Underwood, Sara A.
Underwood, Sara A., Heroines of Freethought - George Eliot. New York: Charles P. Somerby, /J9 Eighth Street. 1876, Pgs. 295-327.
1876

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

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

Unknown
"George Eliot Interviewed." Newcastle Courant, 21 Apr. 1876, p. 6.
1876-04-21

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"Biography." Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 22 Apr. 1876.
1876-04-22

"George Eliot." Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 8 May 1876, p. 3.
1876-05-08

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"George Eliot." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 8 May 1876, p. 3.
1876-05-08

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"Literary and Scientific Gossip." Western Times, 9 May 1876, p. 6.
1876-05-09

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"George Eliot." Lancaster Gazette, 10 May 1876.
1876-05-10

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"George Eliot." Hampshire Advertiser County Newspaper, 20 May 1876, p. 7.
1876-05-20

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"The Biographer: George Eliot." Australasian, 27 May 1876, p. 680.
1876-05-27

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"Biography." Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 16 Sept. 1876.
1876-09-16

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

Swinburne, Algernon Charles
Swinburne, Algernon Charles. A Note on Charlotte Brontë. Chatto & Windus, 1877.
1877

Unknown
"New Twelfth-night Characters." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 11 Jan. 1877, p. 2.
1877-01-11

Peirce, Z. F.
Peirce, Z. F. "George Eliot." Boston Daily Advertiser, 27 Jan. 1877.
1877-01-27

Lewes, G. H.
Lewes, G. H. "George Eliot." Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 16 Mar. 1877.
1877-03-16

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"George Eliot." St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 19 Feb. 1878, p. 2.
1878-02-19

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"George Eliot." Daily Evening Bulletin, 16 Mar. 1878.
1878-03-16

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"A Sketch of George Eliot." Portsmouth Evening News, 8 Aug. 1878, p. 2.
1878-08-08

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"A Sketch of George Eliot." Evening News, 8 Aug. 1878, p. 2.
1878-08-08

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"A Sketch of George Eliot." Daily Gazette For Middlesbrough, 12 Aug. 1878, p. 3.
1878-08-12

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"Death of George Henry Lewes." Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 6 Dec. 1878, p. 7.
1878-12-06

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"George Eliot and George Henry Lewes. " Chicago Daily Tribune, 26 Dec. 1878.
1878-12-26

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"A Platonic Marriage." Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, 2 Jan. 1879.
1879-01-02