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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"Workmen's Bank Accounts." Tamworth Herald, 4 Aug. 1906, p. 2.
1906-08-04

Ker, Cecil
Ker, Cecil. Women Who Have Made Good - George Eliot. The Platt & Peck Co. Copyright 1916, Pgs. 52-57.
1916

Unknown
"Wills and Bequests." Newcastle Courant, 18 Feb. 1881, p. 8.
1881-02-18

Unknown
"Wills and Bequests." Times, 18 Feb. 1881, p. 10.
1881-02-18

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"Who Are the World's Greatest Women?" Pall Mall Gazette, 30 Nov. 1888, p. 1-2.
1888-11-30

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"Where George Eliot Wrote Her First Story." Newcastle Courant, 25 Aug. 1900, p. 6.
1900-08-25

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"What the Queen Reads." North-Eastern Daily Gazette, 3 Jan. 1896.
1896-01-03

Trollope, Thomas Adolphus
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember. Vol. 1-2, Richard Bentley and Son, 1887.
1887

Trollope, Thomas Adolphus
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember. Vol. 1-2, Richard Bentley and Son, 1887.
1887

Unknown
"Weekly Diary." Hull Daily Mail, 16 Dec. 1910, p. 2.
1910-12-16

Wakeman, Edgar L
Wakeman, Edgar L. "Wakeman's Wanderings: Some Features of George Eliot's Girlhood Home." Morning News, 8 May 1892.
1892-05-08

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"Two New Stories." Pall Mall Gazette, 25 Feb. 1891, p. 3.
1891-02-25

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"Two Aspects of George Eliot." Freeman's Journal, 17 Nov. 1881, p. 7.
1881-11-17

Walford, L.B.
Walford, L.B. Twelve English Authoresses. London Longmans, Green, and Co. and New York: East 16th Street 1892, Pgs. 186-200.
1892

Unknown
"To-day." Hull Daily Mail, 22 Dec. 1896, p. 4.
1896-12-22

"To-day." Hull Daily Mail, 22 Dec. 1896, p. 4.
1896-12-22

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"To-day." Hull Daily Mail, 22 Nov. 1895, p. 3.
1895-11-22

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"To Correspondents." Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 2 Feb. 1884, p. 11.
1884-02-02

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

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

Unknown
"The Women's Club." Evening Times Republican, 15 Mar. 1900.
1900-03-15

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

Unknown
"The Will of George Eliot." Huddersfield Chronicle, 21 Feb. 1881, p. 4.
1881-02-21

Unknown
"The Will of George Eliot." Western Times, 19 Feb. 1881, p. 4.
1881-02-19

Unknown
"The Will of George Eliot." Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 22 Feb. 1881, p. 8.
1881-02-22

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"The Week." East London Press, 7 Feb. 1885, p. 2.
1885-02-07

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"The Week." Mid-Surrey Times, 7 Feb. 1885.
1885-02-07

Muriel
Muriel. "The Victorian Exhibition." Newcastle Courant, 12 Dec. 1891, p. 5.
1891-12-12

Unknown
"The Royal Literary Fund." Morning Post, 3 May 1888, p. 2.
1888-05-03

Unknown
"The Rev. G. M. Murphy's Successor." Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 30 Sept. 1887, p. 5.
1887-09-30

Unknown
"The Religious Opinions of George Eliot." Evening Star, 19 Jan. 1881.
1881-01-19

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"The Reader." Graphic, 21 Feb. 1885, p. 194.
1885-02-21

Louch, Thomas
Louch, Thomas. "The Novels of George Eliot." Victorian Express, 19 Mar. 1887, p. 6.
1887-03-19

James, Henry
James, Henry. The Middle Years. New York Charles Scribner's Sons 1917, Pgs. 60-86.
1917

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

Unknown
"The Literary Youth of George Eliot." London Mainly about People, 31 Dec. 1898, p. 712.
1898-12-31

Unknown
"The Literary World." St. James's Gazette, 11 Mar. 1899, p. 12.
1899-03-11

Unknown
"[A Review of] The Life of George Eliot." The Guardian, 2 Dec. 1885, p. 1829.
1885-12-02

Harrison, Frederic
Harrison, Frederic. "The Life of George Eliot." Fortnightly Review, vol. 43, Mar. 1885, pp. 309–322.
1885-03 (Mar)

Hambley, E.B.
E.B. Hambley, The Life and Letters of George Eliot, Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Vol. 137, 1885, Pgs. 155-176.
1885

Oliphant, Margaret
Oliphant, Margaret. "The Life and Letters of George Eliot." Edinburgh Review, Apr. 1885, vol. 161, pp. 514–553.
1885-04 (Apr)

Hamley, E. B.
Hamley, E. B. "The Life and Letters of George Eliot." Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 137, Feb. 1885, pp. 155–176.
1885-02 (Feb)

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

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." Morning Post, 22 Apr. 1881, p. 6.
1881-04-22

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." North Wales Chronicle, 1 Jan 1881.
1881-01-01

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

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." Daily News, 27 Dec. 1880.
1880-12-27

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." North Wales Chronicle, 1 Jan. 1881, p. 5.
1881-01-01

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." Daily News, 27 Dec. 1880, p. 3.
1880-12-27

Unknown
"The Late George Eliot." York Herald, 28 Dec. 1880, p. 7.
1880-12-28