Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 28 (1997) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
This is, of course, the second time many of us have attended the unveiling of a statue of George Eliot. The last time was in 1986 and John, I know, will remember what an exciting time that was. Even before the unveiling we had met in Newdegate Square to await her arrival from the foundry. She arrived on the back of a lorry, almost as though she had thumbed a lift up from High Wycombe. When she was unveiled by our President she shone like a new penny.
From that day on I have wished that the George Eliot Hospital should also have a statue of the lady. There is a beautiful bust in Cheverel Wing, unveiled earlier by Gabriel Woolf, but not everyone sees that. This one is going to be seen by all who visit the hospital and they will be even more aware of the lady whose name has been given to this splendid hospital.
We have had a very warm and close relationship with the hospital for more years than even I know, certainly much longer than my twenty-eight years of office as Fellowship Secretary. We have been asked to suggest names for the many wards and departments in the hospital and this, too, has made local people more aware of George Eliot and her works. We have the annual lecture in the George Eliot Centre, and this year's lecturer, Michael Harris, is with us today.