Mary Anne Evans adopted the pseudonym “George Eliot” when, at age 37, she began writing novels. Her major works include “Adam Bede” (1859), “The Mill on the Floss” (1860), “Silas Marner” (1861), “Middlemarch” (1871), and “Daniel Deronda” (1876). Her novels were both commercially and critically successful, with “Middlemarch” being perhaps the best known. Prior to writing novels, Evans wrote criticism for, and later edited, the “Westminster Review”. She also translated an important German religious book into English.
A shy bookworm as a child, the adult Evans was physically unattractive but charmed most of those she met with her gentleness, expressive voice, and great intellect. She was ostracized both from society and her family when she began living with a man, G. H. Lewes, to whom she was not married. However, they lived together happily for 24 years until his death in 1878, and as Eliot’s fame as a writer grew, the public became more forgiving of her unconventional lifestyle. A year after Lewes’ death, at age 60, Eliot married a longtime friend and business advisor, aged 40, but she died only seven months after the marriage.