George Eliot - a Writer of Wrongs; THE NUNEATON-BORN NOVELIST WHO MADE IT TO THE TOP IN A MALE-DOMINATED VICTORIAN SOCIETY LIVED A WAYWARD LIFE

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), November 21, 2002 | Go to article overview

George Eliot - a Writer of Wrongs; THE NUNEATON-BORN NOVELIST WHO MADE IT TO THE TOP IN A MALE-DOMINATED VICTORIAN SOCIETY LIVED A WAYWARD LIFE


Byline: Marion McMullen

THE enduring appeal of Warwickshire writer George Eliot continues to grow and she is set to reach new fans with the lavish new TV adaptation of her last novel Daniel Deronda. TV writer MARION McMULLEN looks back on the scandalous life of the controversial writer.

BY GEORGE! She raised a few eyebrows in her time. . ...Nuneaton-born novelist George Eliot was a woman ahead of her age who continually broke the sexual, religious and social rules of Victorian society.

She was one of the greatest minds of her age and yet she risked her reputation for love.

BBC 1 launches a major series of her novel Daniel Deronda on Saturday adapted by Kenilworth's awarded-winning playwright Andrew Davies.

He brought Eliot's Middlemarch to the screen a few years ago and he has big hopes that Daniel Deronda will also become an international success.

"Daniel Deronda is highly original and modern in its feel," says the former Warwick University lecturer. "George Eliot's last novel is bold and experimental for its time, which makes it ripe for adaptation.

"Set in the 1860s, it is a passionate, intense love story which takes both hero and heroine, Daniel Deronda and Gwendolen Harleth, on a journey of eventual self-fulfilment.

"The first thing that struck me about the book is that it is full of 'movie moments'."

To accompany the new drama, BBC 1 looks at the life of the novelist who wrote The Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner in documentary special George Eliot - A Scandalous Life on Sunday.

George Eliot enthusiast Maureen Lipman presents the TV programme and actress Harriet Walter plays Eliot herself and recreates the events of her life.

Scandals and rumours plagued the novelist, but they failed to defeat her will and literary genius.

She was born Mary Ann Evans in 1819 and began shocking people when she was just 22 with her rejection of Christianity.

A string of disastrous and shocking affairs characterised her love life and Eliot's actions often provoked contempt and disgust.

She was shunned by society when she eloped to Germany with distinguished, but married, writer George Henry Lewes.

After the death of her beloved Lewes, the 60-year-old Eliot married a man 20 years her junior but, during their honeymoon in Venice, he leapt from their bedroom window into the canal below.

Mystery still surrounds the incident as well as many other key events in the writer's life. Pages were torn from her diaries and letters were destroyed.

George Eliot's story is also one of initial frustration and hampered ambition. Though unofficial editor of the internationally-acclaimed Westminster Review, her success was never publicly acknowledged because she was a woman. …

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George Eliot - a Writer of Wrongs; THE NUNEATON-BORN NOVELIST WHO MADE IT TO THE TOP IN A MALE-DOMINATED VICTORIAN SOCIETY LIVED A WAYWARD LIFE
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