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The Real George Eliot (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Victorian History P&S History > By Century > 19th Century P&S History > Literary Figures P&S History > Social History

By Lisa Tippings
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 232
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations§
ISBN: 9781526754547
Published: 28th April 2021



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The Real George Eliot revisits the life of the ground breaking nineteenth century novelist and focuses on the impact she had on her readers, including the biographer herself.

Eliot was a writer who explored the nature of religion, the role of marriage in society, and the struggle that could emerge between a person’s public and private persona.

Her own private life was the cause of much speculation and notoriety. Eliot chose to ignore most of the conventions of Victorian society in order to pursue her own happiness, and her relationship with George Henry Lewes scandalised many members of ‘polite’ society. Regardless of this, however, she overcame such prejudice and in later life enjoyed the company of some of the greatest thinkers and academics of the time, and this is a testament to her formidable intelligence. The fact that she is still so widely read today, is a sign of the longevity of her skills as a writer.

I have read George Eliot’s works, but I did not know much about her life. This biography shows that George Eliot lived a fascinating life. Thus, this was a very comprehensive and balanced biography of an accomplished woman. This biography shows that she was one of the best female writers of her age!

NetGalley, Lauralee Jacks

Something of a trailblazer in her time, George Eliot was an exceptional author and this book delivers a view of her life which is well researched and very well written. I gained a perspective which I hadn't known before and I would recommend this book to students of literature or anyone interested in the authors of this period.

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

"For those who desire to know more about the life and books of George Eliot, it is a useful and interesting biography."

Family and Community Historical Research Society Newsletter, Volume 22, November 2021

Lisa Tippings has provided a well-written, well-researched and engaging overview of George Eliot’s life. In so many ways Lisa has written a love letter to George Eliot and her novels.

Read the full review here

Where There's Ink There's Paper

This was an interesting biography of an interesting woman. She was such an anomaly of her time. So ensconced in and yet challenging the mores and expectations of what a woman was during the Victorian period.

NetGalley, Jenna Gareis

The real George Eliot, was of course, Mary Ann Evans. Today, she is acknowledged as one of the greatest novelists who ever lived, but at the time she wrote her novels a male pseudonym was necessary to overcome Victorian prejudice.
Lisa Tippings is passionate about George Eliot's work and writes with integrity, including reviews of the novels, her female protagonists, and even goes in search of the author's home.
Sadly today George Eliot is not as widely read as she should be. Hopefully this superb book and at least one new TV adaptation of Middlemarch coming soon will lead to a revival of interest.

NetGalley, Robin Price

The Real George Eliot is a biography written by Lisa Tippings. For as long as I can remember, I have known that George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, The Mill On The Floss being her most famous book.

I believe my love of the book and author began from a BBC costume drama shown on Sunday afternoons during my childhood; however, I can recall very little of the story and in my mind the image of a mill and a stream get muddled with another childhood image, Constable’s Haywain. So reading this book and learning about the life of Mary Ann and how much of her upbringing and experiences probably influenced her writing was very interesting.

The book also contains several black and white photographs from landmarks and places associated with Mary’s life. I haven’t spent any time in the part of the country where she lived, but I now feel better prepared should I ever get the chance to visit the area. The author’s enthusiasm for George Eliot and her works shine through in this book and it was a very interesting book to pick up and dabble through.

Read the full review here

Rosie Amber

I really enjoyed reading this book. The book will appeal to those who enjoy reading Victorian novels and those who have an interest in the culture and mores of Victorian England.

Alison Wall, Local history/ nursing and public health groups

This book is brilliantly written and very well researched.

NetGalley, Rebecca B

Lisa Tippings's The Real George Eliot reveals a woman who was prepared to defy contemporary conventions in her pursuit of success and personal happiness. Excellent addition to this terrific series.

Books Monthly

Admission: I didn't "get" why Middlemarch was considered such a classic back in 1974 when I read it for a "Women in Literature" seminar in college. I knew one had to read Eliot and I found the little I knew about her interesting. I'm sure I read an article about Eliot to supplement the novel. But I found it hard going. At some point, I read Silas Marner and found that more to my liking, but I would not say I was a fan of Eliot's writing, so much as a fan of Eliot the person. So, I was drawn to this recent biography and was pleased that it was an engaging read, portraying Eliot from many perspectives, including her letters, her journals, the social context of her life as a woman of intellect in the 19th Century, and of course, her body of work. Tippings organized the parts/chapters of the book into subsections, making it an enjoyable, cohesive read. It is particularly interesting to me that Eliot persisted through periods of obvious depression and serious physical debilitation such as migraine, to engage with others in deep friendships, to travel, to earn a living as an editor, translator, and article writer before turning to novels later in life and to live a highly unconventional life with a married man who was unable to procure a divorce. I enjoyed in particular the integration of pieces of her work into the reflections on her life. I also appreciated Tippings' balanced evaluation of Eliot. Yes, she was a nonconformist in her lifestyle, but she was also a woman of her time. Thus, her work and her life reflect many accepted norms of the Victorian era yet makes one think about why people defy those norms. Her novels ask us to reflect more and perhaps to judge less. Somewhere, my copy of Middlemarch sits on a shelf at home. Tippings, and her subject, inspire me to give it another go. Well done. Read this book.

NetGalley, Emily Leader

Well researched. Tippings's work is easy to follow, engaging, and surprisingly, packed with information that I did not know.
Far from being dry like some bios can be, I think this work is one that is not just for those interested in the time period, or the author, but anyone interested in interesting females and wanting to gain and expand their general knowledge.

NetGalley, Tiffany Thompson

An interesting account of a life which hit the right balance between providing facts and making the book a story.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

George Eliot is fascinating, incredibly talented, and an inventive thinker and writer. I learned a lot from this biography and highly recommend it!

NetGalley, Jessica Murdock

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is breathtaking in its information. The photographs are a lovely addition and allowed me to re-live my travels to the area. Those passionate about George Eliot absolutely must read this book and for those who wish to learn more about her and the era in general definitely ought to as well.

NetGalley, Brenda Carleton

About Lisa Tippings

Lisa Tippings is a freelance writer living in Swansea. Born in the South Wales valleys, she grew up with her parents and twin sister in a terrace house overlooking the Welsh hills. Sunday nights were spent watching costume dramas on television, and these in turn inspired a love of nineteenth century literature - Eliot, Bronte and Dickens being the novelists she was particularly drawn to. A career in English teaching followed, before she took the plunge and decided to dedicate herself to writing full time.
Having written a book about the suffrage movement in Wales, and a history of the city of Swansea, The Life Of George Eliot is Lisa’s third book.
When she is not writing, Lisa can often be found exploring the museums and galleries of Wales, indulging in her love of book shopping or curled up in her favourite arm chair with a good book on her lap and a cup of tea in her hand.

Born on this day - George Eliot

22nd November 1819

Mary Ann Evans is known more by her pseudonym George Eliot, a name she took up in the 1850s when she started to publish works of fiction. Her first novel "Adam Bede" (1859) was immediately successful. Other works followed such as "Mill on the Floss" (1860) and her masterpiece "Middlemarch" (1871-2) now regarded as one of the most important nineteenth century novels, all written with Eliot's characteristic realistic style.

George Eliot weds Scottish banker John Cross

6th May 1880

British novelist Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) (60) weds Scottish banker John Cross (40) at George's, London

Died on this day - George Eliot

22nd December 1880

Mary Ann Evans is known more by her pseudonym George Eliot, a name she took up in the 1850s when she started to publish works of fiction. Her first novel "Adam Bede" (1859) was immediately successful. Other works followed such as "Mill on the Floss" (1860) and her masterpiece "Middlemarch" (1871-2) now regarded as one of the most important nineteenth century novels, all written with Eliot's characteristic realistic style.

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