The literary and historical influences on George Eliot’s work. George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, a leading author of the 19th Century. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. Mary was an inquirer; she often questioned her faith and her religion. Mary was schooled in literature, languages, and religious studies, by a private tutor as a child. In her last school she was taught French and Italian. After coming home to live with her father she learnt German and Latin. Early in her life Mary read non religious works such as those of Thomas Carlyle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Sir Walter Scott.
As a child she started her literary career by translating religious texts such as Life of Jesus (in 1846) and Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity (in 1854) under publisher John Chapman. She wrote many poems and short stories. Mary had ambitions of being a journalist; she worked for Chapman who was the owner of the Westminster Review. She assisted as editor, examined the submitted work, and wrote reviews. Unfortunately her religious studies, understanding of languages and literature, and work in translation, were of no use to the Review. Mary published her first poem in 1840. Her work was compared with the poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and even with the work of Shakespeare’s Her experiences of living in unorthodox position as a single working woman in a mid-1800’s male-dominated industry also impacted her work.
At this point of her life the women suffrage movement. As her she lost her mother when she was young and did not have a very warm relationship with her father and brother, Mary was a serious lady, many of her stories are serious and have sad endings. She was a supporter of the revolution that commoners were as important as nobles. She shared the lives of commoners in her books; she converted to writing fiction for the same reason. George Eliot is a writer who has left her mark in the world’s literary history; she was a religious woman who was a role model for other women during the Victorian period. Her books are still read and cherished today. Her Scandalous life still mystifies historians today.
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