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.

Annie Matheson
Matheson, Annie. “Children in the Novels of George Eliot.” Macmillan’s Magazine 46, 1882, pp. 488-97.

Author Unknown
Westminster Review, January 1882, pp. 65-81
1882-01 (Jan)

Maria Louise Henry
Henry, Maria Louise. “The Morality of Thackeray and George Eliot.” Atlantic Monthly 51, Feb. 1883, pp. 243-248.

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps
Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart. “Last Words from George Eliot.” Harper’s Magazine 66, Mar. 1883, pp. 568-71.

Charles Bray
Longman, Greens, and Co., 1884

William Hale White
Rutherford, Mark. The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford. Edited by Reuben Shapcott, 11th ed., T. Fisher Unwin, 1884.

Author Unknown
Westminster Review, vol. 65, Jan. 1884, pp. 151-62
1884-01 (Jan)

Rose Elizabeth Cleveland
Funk and Wagnalls, 1885.

Rose G. Kingsley
Kingsley, Rose G. “The Country of George Eliot.” Century Magazine 30, 1885, pp. 339-52.

Eliza Lynn Linton
Review of George Eliot's Life, Temple Bar, 1 Jan. 1885, pp. 512–524.

E. B. Hamley
Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 137, Feb. 1885, pp. 155–176.
1885-02 (Feb)

Edward Dowden
Academy, no. 666, 7 Feb. 1885, pp. 89–91.

Frederic Harrison
Fortnightly Review, vol. 43, Mar. 1885, pp. 309–322.
1885-03 (Mar)

Margaret Oliphant
Edinburgh Review, Apr. 1885, vol. 161, pp. 514–553.
1885-04 (Apr)

Author Unknown
British Quarterly Review, vol. 81, Apr. 1885, pp. 316-33
1885-04 (Apr)

Henry James
Atlantic Monthly, May 1885, vol. 55, pp. 668–678.
1885-05 (May)

Author Unknown
Westminster Review, vol. 124, July 1885, pp. 161-208
1885-07 (July)

Sarah K. Bolton
Thomas Y. Crowell and Co., 1886, pp. 213-39

Margaret Lonsdale
Kegan Paul, Trench and Company, 1886.

Abba Goold Woolson
Harper, 1886.

Eleanor Marx Aveling and Edward Aveling
Westminster Review, vol. 125, Jan. 1886, pp. 207–222.
1886-01 (Jan)

Hattie Tyng Griswold
A. C. McClurg, 1887.

Thomas Adolphus Trollope
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember. Vol. 1-2, Richard Bentley and Son, 1887.

Thomas Adolphus Trollope
Trollope, Thomas Adolphus. What I Remember. Vol. 1-2, Richard Bentley and Son, 1887.

Helen Cone Gray and Jeannette L. Gilder
Cassell and Company, 1888.

Lisbeth Gooch Seguin
A. Strahan, 1888.

Annie E. Ireland
Ireland, Annie E. “George Eliot and Jane Welsh Carlyle.” Gentleman’s Magazine 264, 1888, pp. 229-238.

Oscar Browning
Walter Scott, 1890

Mary Bradford Whiting
Whiting, Mary Bradford. “George Eliot as a Character Artist.” Westminster Review 138, 1892, pp. 406-415.

Bessie Rayner Belloc
Ward & Downey, 1895.

Eliza Lynn Linton
Women Novelists of Queen Victoria's Reign: A Book of Appreciations, Hurst and Blackett, 1897, pp. 63–115.

Hannah Amelia Davidson
Study Guide Series, 1897.

Eliza Lynn Linton
Hodder and Stoughton, 1899.

Annie Adams Fields
Century Magazine, vol. 58, Jul. 1899, pp. 442-446
1899-07 (July)

Clara Thomson
Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1901.

Leslie Stephen
Macmillan & Co., 1902

Mathilde Blind
1904 (First ed 1883)

Herbert Spencer
Spencer, Herbert. Herbert Spencer: an Autobiography. Vol. 1-2, Williams and Norgate, 1904.

William Mottram
Mottram, William, George Eliot, and George Eliot. The True Story of George Eliot In Relation to "Adam Bede": Giving the Real Life History of the More Prominent Characters. American ed. Chicago: McClurg, 1906.

Charles S. Olcott
Olcott, Charles S. "George Eliot: Scenes and People In her Novels." Cassell, 1910.

Mary H. Deakin
Manchester University Press, 1913.

Lucy Clifford
Clifford, Lucy. “A Remembrance of George Eliot.” Nineteenth Century 74, July 1913, pp. 109-118.

"Mark Rutherford" (William Hale White)
Oxford University Press, 1915.

Lina Wright Berle
Mitchell Kennerley, 1917.

May Tomlinson
Tomlinson, May. “Rosamond and Lydgate.” South Atlantic Quarterly 17, 1918, pp. 320-29.

May Tomlinson
Tomlinson, May. “Rosamond and Lydgate.” South Atlantic Quarterly 17, 1918, pp. 320-29.

May Tomlinson
Tomlinson, May. “Dodsons and Tullivers.” Sewanee Review 26 July 1918, pp. 319-27.

Matilda Betham-Edwards
Macmillan, 1919.

May Tomlinson
Tomlinson, May. “The Beginning of George Eliot’s Art: A Study of Scenes of Clerical Life.” Sewanee Review 27, July 1919, pp. 320-329.
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