Cover image for George Eliot : the last Victorian
George Eliot : the last Victorian
Hughes, Kathryn, 1959-
Personal Author:
First Farrar, Straus, and Giroux edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999.

Physical Description:
xiii, 383 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
General Note:
"First published in 1998 by Fourth Estate, Great Britain"--T.p. verso.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PR4681 .H84 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Williamsville Library PR4681 .H84 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



A peripatetic scholar of 19th-century English literature and history, Hughes focuses more fully on Eliot's (1819-80) private life than other recent biographers. She details the scandal that cast her into social exile until her literary successes established her at the heart of the London literary elite. She finds her to have been by turns ambitious and insecure, cerebral and earthy, provocative and conservative. Annotation copyrighted by Book News, Inc., Portland, OR

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Hughes's biography examines the remarkable life of Eliot (n?e Mary Anne Evans, 1819-80), who wrote some of the 19th century's most outstanding literature. The book chronicles her complex life from childhood, showing her transformations as she matured and developed into adulthood. Eliot took care of her father, at age 17, after her mother's death and the marriage of her elder sister. She met George Lewes, a philosopher, scientist, and critic, and it changed her life; they shared a long-term relationship without the benefit of marriage. Lewes, who was several years her senior, loved, protected, and encouraged her and took care of her affairs. Upon his death in 1878, Eliot became a hermit and stopped writing. This work is intelligent, adept, and full of insight. Nadia May's narration is clear and precise; a welcome addition to public libraries. Carol Stern, Glen Cove P.L., NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Scholars may question the need for another biography of Eliot following the publication of Rosemary Ashton's George Eliot: A Life (CH, Nov'97), now regarded as the standard biography, and Rosemarie Bodenheimer's The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans (CH, Apr'95). Still, Eliot's significance as a major Victorian writer and the seeming discontinuity between her public persona and her private life make this new biography by Hughes, a lecturer at several universities in the UK and author of The Victorian Governess (CH, Jul'93), a welcome addition to Eliot scholarship. Unlike Bodenheimer's study, which depends on a substantial knowledge of Eliot's work, Hughes's biography is directed toward a general audience and includes plot summaries of some less-known works. Nevertheless, Hughes provides meticulous but unobtrusive documentation throughout her study. And whereas Ashton seeks to provide a balance between Eliot's life and work, Hughes's primary interest is Eliot as a complex human being. Like Ashton, Hughes is judicious in speculating on some of the puzzles in Eliot's life (e.g., her marriage to John Cross) and grounds her conclusions in recent scholarship. Though not a replacement for Ashton, Hughes is a good resource for undergraduates and general readers. Moreover, Hughes writes with an uncommon blend of clarity, economy, and grace. All collections. R.D. Morrison; Morehead State University

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