Commentary by Contemporaries

An understanding of how George Eliot’s contemporaries were reading and responding to her published works helps us appreciate her reach, her fame, and her historical significance.

Literature Reviews: The George Eliot Archive team has identified and collected most of the reviews of Eliot’s works written during her lifetime, many more than any printed collection. We’ve found, for example, twice as many reviews of Middlemarch by Eliot’s contemporaries than have been collected previously, and we continue to add more as we find them in various databases of digitized periodicals.

Biographical Studies: In this section, you also will find assessments of Eliot’s life by her contemporaries—everything from brief commentary in periodicals to book-length biographies. Obituary notices are well represented, including several later tributes written by famous authors whose own work was influenced by Eliot’s, including Henry James and Virginia Woolf. Most significant is the biography written by her husband, John Walter Cross, which includes many of Eliot's letters and journal entries. Reviews of Cross’s biography are collected here for the first time.

1881-02 (Feb)

1904 (First ed 1883)

1877-01 (Jan)


1859-04 (Apr)

1872-12 (Dec)

1860-05 (May)

1860-05 (May)

1873-01 (Jan)

1876-11 (Nov)




1872-08 (Aug)

1885-03 (Mar)



1885-05 (May)

1873-03 (Mar)


1866-09 (Sept)


1866-05 (May)

1860-10 (Oct)

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