Evans, Isaac Pearson (1816-1890)


Evans, Isaac Pearson (1816-1890)


Older than his sister by three years, Isaac Evans was quite close to George Eliot when they were children but grew apart as he became more conservative and she more radical. Isaac and Eliot spent their childhood as constant companions until being sent to separate boarding schools. While aging and separation did cause some distance, the two remained on good terms while they both lived in the Warwickshire country of their upbringing. When Eliot was still living with her father in Coventry, Isaac and his wife, Sarah, offered their own house for her to stay in despite a previous falling out over Eliot's refusal to attend church. After their father retired, Isaac Evans took over the family business of estate management and also seemed to take on some of his social expectations.

Eliot avoided telling her family of her relationship with George Henry Lewes for three years; when she did finally tell Isaac in 1857 that she had a 'husband,' her brother quickly found out the truth--that she was living with an already-married man. Consequently, he cut off all communication with her and demanded their sisters Fanny and Chrissey do the same. Evans did not speak to his sister for 23 years, though his wife did send condolences to Eliot when Lewes died. The silence was not broken until Evans heard of Eliot's marriage to John Cross, where he wrote to her with congratulations. The two exchanged letters, saying they were still fond of each other even after the long separation. Before they could be reunited in person, Eliot unexpectedly died. Evans seemed to feel true sorrow, to the extent that he made the difficult trek during winter to attend her funeral in London. Isaac Evans outlived his sister by ten years, but is forever memorialized in the character of Tom Tulliver in Eliot's The Mill on the Floss.


George Eliot Archive, edited by Beverley Park Rilett, https://georgeeliotarchive.org


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