GEORGE HENRY LEWES
LEWES was then thirty-six years old, two and a half years older than Marian. By this time she knew a fair amount about him: that he came from a theatrical family, his grandfather1 a well-known comic actor, his father2 manager for some years of the Theatre Royal in Liverpool, and that he in turn, after studying medicine, had for a time turned playwright3 and actor4 -- indeed, she had only just missed his The Noble Heart which had been staged in London three years earlier; although the omission was perhaps just as well. His father had been nicknamed Dandy Lewes, and although he died early something of him was to be seen in the jaunty 'Frenchified' air of his son that Marian had disliked at their first meeting. She knew him to be a first-rate literary and dramatic critic, his articles going as far back as the old Westminster of 1840, and she believed him to be the backbone of the Leader; his weekly review of books had been one of London's most stimulating journalistic experiences ever since he and Thornton Hunt had begun this radical journal four years earlier,5 the year of her trial fortnight at the Chapmans'. She could scarcely approve of his other activity in the Leader -- the gossipy columns of Vivian, the man about town -- for this exposed all too plainly the unregenerate side of Lewes; but the writing was clever nevertheless, and the dramatic criticism sprinkled through the columns was both sound and sparkling. His two novels could only be dismissed with a sigh; had not Jane Welsh Carlyle, who had a weakness for Lewes and his good stories (a sure way to her heart) and who was not easily shocked -- had she not said of Rose, Blanche, and Violet,6 'Execrable that is -- I could not have suspected even the Ape of writing anything so silly'? Lady Harriet Baring, Jane's hostess at the time, refused to continue the book, it was 'too vulgar'; and Jane read on only because she 'felt a pitying interest in the man'.7 Marian was not Jane Welsh Carlyle; there was nothing to be done with the novels but to
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Publication information: Book title: Marian Evans & George Eliot:A Biography. Contributors: Lawrence Hanson - Author, Elisabeth Hanson - Author. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1952. Page number: 153.
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