About George Eliot

George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans (1819-1880), remains one of the best-known and highest acclaimed authors of English literature. A scholarly website devoted exclusively to the study of Eliot’s life and works is long overdue.  In lieu of offering a biographical sketch of George Eliot’s life in this “About George Eliot” section, which the reader may find easily on other websites, we provide interactive tools that afford the reader several ways to explore her life more deeply than any single biography.  

By May 2019, the “About George Eliot” section will offer:  

(1) a highly detailed chronology of Eliot’s life, developed and expanded from the book-length study written by Timothy Hands, which draws on information gleaned from her journals and letters;   

(2) a relationship web summarizing and visually representing Eliot's most relevant connections with family members, friends, and business colleagues; and 

(3) an interactive historical map that enables readers to follow the sites and artwork Eliot experienced on her trips to Italy. 

These tools are designed to be enormously helpful to new and veteran scholars, affording new ways to drill down into unexplored facets of the author's life.

The George Eliot Archive team and its worldwide consultants aim to eliminate as much speculation as possible from the information presented by relying on primary documents, such as the author's letters and journals. Without the foundational work of Eliot scholars such as Gordon Haight, William Baker, John Rignall, Margaret Harris and Judith Johnson, our site would not be possible. If you notice anything that looks incorrect, the errors are almost certainly ours at the George Eliot Archive, and we invite you to send input and suggestions to the editor at brilett2@unl.edu 


Relationship Web

The George Eliot Archive features an interactive relationship webin which the novelist's relations with friends, family, and business associates are visualized. Significant relationships are displayed as larger and physically closer to George Eliot, while lesser relations are smaller and placed further away. Brief biographical summaries based on The Oxford Reader's Companion to George Eliot (edited by John Rignall) are featured for more than 150 individuals who were connected to George Eliot. The George Eliot Archive team thanks Dr. John Rignall, an expert consultant for the biographical summaries. 



The George Eliot Archive’s interactive chronology details the events of George Eliot’s life as have been determined by the existing documentary evidence. This project began in collaboration with Timothy Hands, whose A George Eliot Chronology, published in 1989, provides the foundational information that is constantly being updated and revised with additional biographical information gleaned from Eliot’s letters and journals. The Archive would like to thank Timothy Hands, Robert Muscutt, Tom Joudrey, and Antje Anderson for their content and revision suggestions that have contributed to the chronology. If you have suggestions for updating this chronology, please include the date in question and the primary source citations in your email to Dr. Beverley Rilett at  brilett2@unl.edu


Interactive Maps

The George Eliot Archive will be featuring a number of Interactive Maps (zoomable and clickable) that link to the Chronology and the Relationship Web as well as to relevant writings by Eliot. Our first mapping project will be Eliot's continental travels, beginning with a sample map of her 1860 trip to Italy with links to the chronology, Eliot's Recollections of Italy. 1860, and to relevant locations in Romola. Additional future maps offer opportunities for collaboration and crowd-sourcing, so please get in touch if you have a geospatial Eliot project in mind.