Ugly Start of a Huge Talent

The Birmingham Post (England), November 28, 1998 | Go to article overview

Ugly Start of a Huge Talent


Had George Eliot been born in the second half of the 20th century instead of the first half of the 19th, she would probably have taken herself off to the nearest reputable plastic surgeon and had a nose job.

The result may have been a beautiful young woman. But we might never have met the succession of extraordinary literary heroines whose very existence depended on the sheer physical unattractiveness of their creator.

George Eliot hated her plain face, dominated by an over-long nose. In modern parlance, we would probably say she was psychologically damaged by her ugliness.

Certainly her latest biographer feels her hatred of her own appearance had a great deal to do with the creation of heroines like Maggie Tulliver in The Mill on the Floss, and heroes like Adam Bede, Silas Marner and Daniel Deronda, along with the entire p opulation of Middlemarch.

It was George Eliot's overwhelming desire to be accepted, admired and loved. Her way of expunging her own feelings of rejection was to pour it all out on paper.

Which may not be extraordinary today. But in an age when women were largely biddable companions to their menfolk, it had the hallmarks of notoriety and ostracism.

The fact that George Elliot became a pillar of society is a mark of her determination. Her soirees were attended by the great and the good. Queen Victoria herself asked for an autograph.

But it was never enough for the little girl, born in Warwickshire where the woods were at their greenest just beyond Nuneaton, who never overcame the emotional deprivation of her childhood.

In her brilliantly-accessible biography, Kathryn Hughes, who never seems to be daunted at the idea of poking around in the psyche of her subject, gives us a picture of an intellectual giant who could very well have dominated politics, philosophy and worl d thinking had she been around today.

Instead, Mary Anne Evans - she later abridged the two Christian names to the single Marian - arrived in the early hours of November 22, 1819, at a solid stone farmhouse on Newdigate's estate in Shakespeare's county.

Interestingly, six months earlier, another girl baby had been born at Kensington Palace. A couple of decades later she was destined to become Queen.

But they had little else in common beyond their year of birth. Young Mary Anne was a fifth child and a third daughter. Her father Robert Evans, a land agent to the Newdigates, was less than impressed. He was more interested in his woodlands (remnants of the Forest of Arden), his canal, his 7,000 acres of farmlands and the burgeoning industrialisation that was changing the face of Middle England.

The little girl craved for the love of her father and her elder brother. Both ignored her. Eventually she was packed off to boarding school where her alienation became even more intense as fellow pupils poked fun at her oddly-shaped nose and her shy mann ers. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Ugly Start of a Huge Talent
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.