Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 47 (2016)
Isobel Armstrong begins her wonderful obituary for Barbara in the Guardian by noting how Barbara loved a good argument. No consideration of what Barbara Hardy has left us can get anywhere without recognition that she was a feisty woman. She was also an extraordinarily warm and inspiring one.
I owe her a lot. I first met her when, as an assistant professor still very wet behind the ears, I was lucky enough to spend a research year in London. Barbara took me in as though I were a serious scholar. She helped me find my way around London, was generous to me and my very young family, filled me with exciting ideas about George Eliot and Victorian fiction, took me to lunch a few times near the British Museum, and finally, in what I thought was a recklessly trusting way, asked me to teach a course in the summer session of Middlebury College in London, which she was running. She invited me to write for a collection of essays she edited about George Eliot. She made me believe in myself as a scholar, when I had every reason to doubt.