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George Eliot: The Last Victorian

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  130 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Mary Ann Evans, aka George Eliot (1819-1880) achieved lasting renown with the novels Silas Marner, Middlemarch, and Adam Bede. Her masterworks were written after years of living an unconventional life, including a scandalous voyage to Europe with the married writer and editor George Henry Lewes. The scandal intensified when she moved in with Lewes after he separated from ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 2nd 2001 by Cooper Square Press (first published May 1st 1999)
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Jo Walton
Sep 27, 2016 Jo Walton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, thorough, interesting biography of a fascinating person in a complex time. Hughes negotiates everything very well, and keeps a good balance of writing about her life and work together. Also very readable. Recommended for anyone who likes Eliot's work. This is what I always hope biographies will be like, and I'll be looking for anything else by Hughes.
May 24, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
George Eliot! What a hot tamale. I thought this biography was slightly superficial at times, but at others very insightful. And what fascinating material! Overall I quite liked it.
Mar 27, 2015 Sara rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who read biographies on planes
On the one hand, George Eliot was easily one of the most sensational women of the nineteenth century, to say nothing of the millenium, and this bio makes her accessible to someone who read and liked _Mill on the Floss_, but doesn't know much about Eliot's contemporary world. On the other hand, George Eliot was a woman who lived intensely through ideas, and beyond explaining Eliot's falling away from orthodox Christianity, and then very obliquely nodding toward the fact that the notion of natural ...more
Anne Borrowdale
Jul 21, 2014 Anne Borrowdale rated it it was amazing
I don't read a lot of biographies, but I thoroughly enjoyed this insight into George Eliot and her amazing, controversial life. For writers, it's a fascinating look at how Eliot went about her writing, and coped with negative reaction - getting her partner to filter only good reviews through to her was one tactic.

I finished this book a few years ago, but have gone back to it in recent days because I'm currently listening to an audiobook of Middlemarch. Listening to rather than reading Middlemar
Oct 02, 2012 Kirsten rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: George Eliot devotees, of course!
A very delightful and thorough biography of Marian Evans/Lewes. I'm not sure the lay reader who hasn't read at least two of Eliot's works would enjoy it, but the textual interplay between art and life was really fun to uncover. I think I actually enjoyed the beginning sections of the book when Evans was still finding her way towards fiction the most. Many fascinating letters survive from this time. One real tragedy is that no letters survive between Eliot and her longtime companion George Henry ...more
Kathryn Hughes succeeds in presenting a vivid and psychologically acute portrayal of George Eliot - one of the giants of English literature. Eliot is definitely my most favourite author and while I already had a fair amount of knowledge concerning her notoriously controversial life, after reading Hughes's biography I am able to perceive Eliot's work with a totally refreshing insight, as determined by her moral and philosophical outlook.

I am glad that Hughes avoids the typical feminist buffooner
Mar 13, 2016 Maire rated it really liked it
I'm embarking on a project to read a few biographies of George Eliot along with each of her novels in chronological order. (She's one of my favorite writers!) I chose this biography as the starting point, mainly because it was relatively short and was written recently. It served my purposes nicely, since I was looking for something that would introduce me to the basic outline of her life without going into too much depth on each of her books. I also liked how Hughes didn't just base everything ...more
Jan 16, 2011 Daphne added it
I listened to this book on audio and was mesmerized. Not only is it a history lesson and an immersion in Eliot's religious world (which she later questioned and rejected), but it is a deep and careful portrayal of her intellectual emergence as a profound thinker and novelist. We meet many remarkable characters along the way, and I was truly moved by this wonderful writer's romantic disappointments and eventual personal happiness.
Jul 16, 2016 David rated it really liked it
This book gives a good sense of the events in Mary Ann Evans's life, what drove her, but I felt like I came away with more of a sense of how people responded to her than of who she was herself. Even more than most people she seemed a mass of contradictions, and I can't help but think the author might have done a better job of making a coherent psychological portrait. But maybe the task was impossible.
Alice Chau-Ginguene
Apr 21, 2013 Alice Chau-Ginguene rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed another book by Kathryn Hughes - The Short Life & Long Times of Mrs. Beeton and went on to read this book. Equally enjoyable. Very well researched to give us a peek into George Eliot's life.
Jan 21, 2010 Sharon rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was dense, but it covers a very interesting life and personality. The author approaches the biography by giving quick outlines of events over a period of several years and then backing up to fill in details. At times, this is a bit confusing, but the overall result is a considered discussion of a unique woman.
Apr 18, 2016 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent biography giving a good outline of George Eliot's life and works. The "scandal" of her lifestyle seems rather unimportant to the modern reader, but Kathryn Hughes explains the issues and consequences very clearly.
Sue Tincher
Jun 01, 2009 Sue Tincher rated it really liked it
A comprehensive picture of my favorite novelist of all time--what an interesting life and what an interesting woman!
Avril Vandermerwe
Jul 10, 2016 Avril Vandermerwe rated it it was amazing
Fascinating. A eye-opening window into the social, cultural, and literary climate of Victorian England, and the development of George Eliot as a writer. Superbly written.
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