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Lunchtime Lecture: George Eliot: From “Strong-minded Woman” to Great Novelist

Past event archive
7 November 2019, 13:15

Ondaatje Wing Theatre

Tickets: £4 (£3 concessions and Gallery Supporters) Book online, or visit the Gallery in person.

George Eliot
replica by François D'Albert Durade
1850-1886, based on a work of 1850
NPG 1405

George Eliot
by Sir Frederic William Burton
NPG 669

Immerse yourself in history, art and culture at our popular Lunchtime Lectures. Doors open at 12.45. Lectures begin at 13.15 and last approximately one hour.

How did Mary Anne Evans, born in 1819 the daughter of an estate manager in Warwickshire, become 'George Eliot', the new 'unknown' novelist who on arrival on the literary scene in 1859 with her first novel Adam Bede immediately won critical success to rival that of Dickens and Thackeray?  The evolution from country girl brought up on a farm to unorthodox young woman making her way as a journalist in radical London to acclaimed novelist will be discussed with reference to her letters, essays, and fiction. The story of her experience of family rejection and social ostracism will be told, interwoven with analysis of the deep understanding of human nature and the sympathy and humour she brought to the fictional worlds she created.

Rosemary Ashton OBE, FRSL, FBA, is Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London. She has edited many of George Eliot's writings, and is the author of critical biographies of several Victorian writers, including George Eliot (Penguin, 1996) and her partner George Henry Lewes (Oxford, 1991). George Eliot also features prominently in 142 Stand: A Radical Address in Victorian London (Chatto, 2006), which describes the unorthodox circle in which she and Lewes moved. Most recently Rosemary Ashton has published a study of the social and cultural life of London in 1858, One Hot Summer: Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli and the Great Stink of 1858 (Yale, 2017).