“The finest language is mostly made up of simple unimposing words.” – George Eliot
Born on this day in 1819, Mary Ann Evans was known best by her pen name George Eliot. The English novelist, journalist, and translator was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, and is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner and Middlemarch, often described as “the greatest novel of the times.”
She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously, since female authors in her era were often stereotyped as only being writers of lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic at The Westminster Review.
Her writing places an emphasis on realistic storytelling, often about the cases of social outsiders and small-town persecution. That attention to “rural realism” earned her many admirers, and she shared with her friend, the poet William Wordsworth, her belief that there was much interest and importance in the mundane details of ordinary people's lives.
And, she loved that her characters often took her stories in directions she hadn’t first intended. “Our words have wings,” she said, “but sometimes fly not where we want them to go.”
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