George Eliot Timeline
How It All Went Down
George Eliot Born
Mary Anne Evans is born in Warwickshire, England. She is the daughter of Robert and Christiana Evans. Mary Anne has two half-siblings from her father's first marriage, plus an older brother and older sister.
Lost Twin Brothers
Christiana Evans gives birth to twin boys who live for only a few days.
Eliot enrolls in Miss Latham's, the first of several boarding schools that she attends in her youth. She is a shy but excellent student. The only downside is her separation from her brother Isaac, who attends the boys' school.
Eliot leaves Miss Latham's and moves to Mrs. Wallington's Boarding School in Nuneaton. Eliot grows close to the teacher Maria Lewis, who remains her friend long after Eliot graduates.
Eliot enrolls at Miss Franklin's Boarding School in the nearby city of Coventry.
Eliot's mother, Christiana Evans, dies after a long illness. Eliot quits her studies at Miss Franklin's and returns to Warwickshire to care for her father. She studies at home.
Moves to Foleshill
Robert Evans retires from the farm. He and Eliot move to the town of Foleshill, England. There, Eliot meets Charles and Cara Bray, a progressive couple who become close friends. Eliot is relieved to find during their discussions that there are others who share her doubts about Christianity.
Eliot stops going to church. Her father is furious and nearly disowns her. Close friends like Maria Lewis are so shocked that they stop writing to her.
Eliot meets German philosopher David Friedrich Strauss, one of several intellectuals she befriends through the Brays. She begins working on an English translation of his book The Life of Jesus.
First Work Published
Eliot's translation of The Life of Jesus is published. It does not bear her name, but it earns her recognition in literary and intellectual circles.
Robert Evans dies after a long illness. Immediately after her father's death, Eliot travels to Geneva with the Brays. When they return to England, she decides to stay in Switzerland alone.
Back to England
Eliot returns to England and moves to London. She moves into a boarding house occupied by publisher John Chapman, with whom Eliot has worked. Two other women - Chapman's wife and his mistress - also live in the house. When the two women discover that Chapman is also involved with Eliot, they conspire to force her out of the house. She moves back to Coventry.
Starts Work; Meets Lewes
Chapman hires Eliot as assistant editor at The Westminster Review, a left-wing journal. She moves back to the boarding house after Chapman negotiates with the two other women to let her stay. She meets literary critic George Henry Lewes, who is separated from his wife but still legally married. Lewes and Eliot begin an affair.
Gets Her Own Place
Eliot moves out of the London boarding house and into her own apartment.
Eliot announces her decision to live with Lewes as his common law wife. The couple travels to Germany together. When they return to England, Eliot lives in Dover while Lewes sorts out his affairs in London.
Eliot moves in with Lewes in London. From then on, they call themselves Mr. and Mrs. Lewes and live together as a married couple.
First Story Published
It is published in Blackwood's Magazine. Lewes sent Eliot's story "Amos Barton" to his publisher under the pen name George Eliot. The story is one of three published together as Scenes of Clerical Life, her first book of fiction.
Outed to Family
Eliot reveals to her sister and brother that her marriage to Lewes is not legal. They cut off contact with her.
Eliot's first novel is published. The book's popularity fuels speculation about the true identity of George Eliot. After an imposter tries to claim credit for the book, Eliot's identity is revealed as Mary Anne Lewes.
The Mill on the Floss
Eliot publishes The Mill on the Floss, her most autobiographical novel. It is dedicated to her "husband," George Henry Lewes.
The novel Silas Marner is published. Eliot travels to Florence to research her next book.
Romola, a novel set in Italy, is published.
Eliot begins work on an epic novel set in England that she has been thinking about for some time. She puts it aside in order to care for Lewes' son Thornton, who is ill.
Middlemarch is published serially in Blackwood's Magazine in 1871 and 1872. Amidst the novel's success, the public seems to forget its judgment of Eliot's personal life. She becomes popular and wealthy.
Eliot publishes Daniel Deronda. By this time, she is regarded as the greatest living English novelist and has fans around the world. She and Lewes quit London for Surrey.
Eliot and Lewes are introduced to Princess Louise, a fan of Eliot's fiction. The meeting is more than a chance to shake a royal's hand – it signifies that the unconventional couple has been accepted in polite society.
After several years of failing health, George Henry Lewes dies at their home in Surrey. As a tribute to her late partner, Eliot completes editing his final work, Life and Mind.
Eliot marries John Cross, a 40-year-old American banker who had been a friend and financial adviser to the Leweses. She changes her name to Mary Ann Cross. During their honeymoon, the mercurial Cross either jumps - or falls - from their hotel suite balcony into the Venice canal below, but survives. Rumors fly that Cross would rather die than make love to his aged wife. The couple settle in Chelsea, London.
George Eliot Dies
Eliot dies in London at the age of 61. She is buried in Highgate Cemetery in London next to George Henry Lewes.
Honored in Poet's Corner
Though originally denied recognition in Westminster Abbey because of her scandalous personal life, George Eliot receives a monument in Poet's Corner on the hundredth anniversary of her death.