The Biography of George Eliot’s Husband George Henry Lewes



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More than a century after her death George Eliot (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans) vies with Charles Dickens as the most widely read of Victorian novelists. But lurking in the shadows of her reputation is a man, George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived (but never marries) for more than twenty-five years. Now in this first biography of Lewes for more than half a century David Willams suggests that without him George Eliot might never have started writing fiction. It is to George Henry Lewes, therefore that we owe Middlemarch, Silas Marner, The Mill On The Floss, Adam Bede and others.

Who was this literary Svengali? A remarkable man certainly. His biography of Goethe remains the best in English of the great German literary all rounder. He was the first editor of the Fortnightly Review, He was, says Williams, the founding father of all newspaper columnists. He wrote dramatic criticism of such quality that Bernard Shaw remarked that he was the only man worth bothering with between him and Hazlitt. He wrote plays. He wrote novels He wrote lucidly and fluently on philosophy and science. His Biographical History of Philosophy was still being used by students fifty years after his death.

But, for all his worth as a critic and writer, G H Lewes will for ever be linked in people’s minds for his twenty five year relationship with Mary Ann Evans. When they chose to live together she was thirty five, a clever journalist in her own right, unmarried and plain. He was two years older, small and ugly and married with four children, but being cuckholded by an unfaithful wife. He was amusing, he could sparkle. He never lacked self confidence. Although there was a strong physical attraction between the two, the closeness of their relationship, their tender understanding of each other indicates a cerebral attachment that was to last.

To a certain extent their decision to live together openly brought private and later public disapproval. But they survived the rebukes , because George Eliot, the novelist, grew in critical esteem and public success that transcended the gossip. David Williams, however, offers copious evidence of how necessary an encourager, a prop, a reviser, an editor and an inspiration Lewes was to her. He was ((he concludes) a generous man, with wide ranging talents of his own. He was very much an actor too, a stage Fairy Prince, if you like, with a Cinderella he could work wonders with. It’s hard to think of anyone else in English literary history who can lay claim to his special sort of mixed and strange achievement.

David Williams reviews widely in the national press and has contributed much to BBC programmes. Among his earlier book are a biography/literary study of Clough whom he puts among the greatest and most neglected of Victorian poets; a biography of George Meredith who after the death of George Eliot succeeded to the tite of England’s greatest living novelist; a study called Genesis and Exodus of the talented but tragic Benson family though two generations spanning a century between 1840 and 1940; and a study of the eccentric vagabond genius George Borrow in a book published under the title A World of his Own.

(This text is from the dust jacket – I’m not so sure that we owe Middlemarch etc to George Eliot’s husband)


Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Ed. John D. Jump.

Revels Plays. Doctor Faustus. Ed. John D. Jump

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You but an edition edited by John D. Jump here at Amazon USA

The full title of this book is: “The Revels Plays. The Tragical History of the LIfe and Death of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. Edited By John D. Jump”.

This is the first complete scholarly edition of ‘Doctor Faustus’ to have been prepared from the early quartos since the late Sir Walter Greg demonstrated that the 1616 version of the play was closer to what Marlowe and another wrote than the 1604 version upon which editors had for a long time been accustomed to rely. It provides a modern spelling text which is broadly similar to Greg’s though frequently differing from it in detail; and, in its introduction, textual and explanatory notes and appendices it presents materials chosen to serve not only the student but also the man of the theatre and the non specialised reader. The introduction includes a compact biography of Marlowe, a study of the textual problems posed by ‘Doctor Faustus’, discussions of the date, sources and authorship of the play, a full critical interpretation of it, and an outline of its stage history from the sixteenth century to the ‘Edinburgh Festival’ of 1961. The appendices contain alternative versions of five of its scenes, as well as copious extracts from the English translation, used by the dramatists of the old German Faust Book.

The Akhmatova Journals. 1938-1941. Lydia Chukovskaya.

Akhmatova Journals

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You can find The Akhmatova Journals here at Amazon USA

“Lydia Chukovskaya and Anna Akhmatova were brought together by the tragedy of Stalin’s purges. Akhamatov’s son, Lev Gumilyov, had been arrested in 1935 but was released after Akhmatova wrote personally to Stalin (though he would be arrested again in 1938); Chukovskaya’a husband, the physicist Matvey Bronshteyn had been arrested in 1937. These were the circumstances in which the young Lydia Chukovskaya first sought Akhmatova’s advice on how to secure her husband’s release, and found herself becoming the poet’s confident and amanuensis, memorizing poems that the poet did not dare to commit to paper.

In common with many thousands of Russian women, they shared the routine of the prison queue; keeping faith with their husbands and sons in almost total silence, standing in line for whole days to glean scraps of news and to hand over meagre parcels of food and clothing. But they also shared a love of literature and thus sustained them. These were the years in which Akhmatova wrote Requiem, her poem of terror and Chukovskaya her novella Sofia Petrovna.

The Akhmatova Journals 1938-41 (the first of three volumes), translated from the Moscow edition of 1989, especially revised for this edition, are the record of an extraordinary friendship and present an intimate portrait of a supremely gifted poet and a remarkable spirit – imperious, poor, recklessly generous, harassed by self-serving, often vicious critics, yet of a triumphant natural dignity, courage and warmth.. They convey Akhmatova views on Russian writers of the past (Pushkin whom she held in the highest esteem, Tolstoy whom she abhorred for his treatment of Anna Karenina), on her contemporaries and on Western writers too, including Hemingway, Joyce, Mauriac and Proust. In addition the Journals offer a wider portrait of the Russian intelligentsia as seen through the  sharp, humane, occasionally humorous eyes of the young Lydia Chukovskaya”. (Text from the dust jacket description).

Pride and Prejudice. Bancroft Classic Edition

This edition was number 33 in the series of Bancroft Classics. These were abridged versions of major literary works as well as children’s classics such as Alice In Wonderland and The Coral Island.

They had distinctive covers – though the artist for this edition was not credited. At the time of writing you can find this specific edition by clicking on the photo of the book’s cover below.

Pride and Prejudice Bancroft Edition

They are not expensive or rare. You can find at Ebay.