The 21st Century Resonance of ‘Middlemarch’
How George Eliot’s “Middlemarch” Resonates in the England of 2019
By Rebecca Mead
We must lay upon her grave whatever we have it in our power to bestow of laurel and rose,” Virginia Woolf wrote of George Eliot, in 1919, appraising the author’s work on the centenary of her birth. This week marks two hundred years since Mary Ann Evans was born, on November 22, 1819, in the upper bedroom of a farmhouse on an estate in the English Midlands, where her father was the land manager. Woolf’s essay, which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, contains the most celebrated observation that anyone has ever made about Eliot’s contribution to English literature: that her masterpiece, “Middlemarch,” which was published in eight parts between 1871 and 1872, is “one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.”
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