Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 31 (2000) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
During 1999 we were unusually busy in planning the extra events to take place in 2000. Before I began this report I had spent a few weeks updating the Story of the George Eliot Fellowship which had been published for our fiftieth anniversary in 1980 and now needed a further 20 busy years added. So, as I began the report of activities for 1999 I had many other years buzzing around in my head. However, 1999 is now clear of those seventy years, and I am happy to begin with the news that 1999 was another profitable year for the Fellowship. Its business was emphasized for me when comparing it to the happenings in the early days of the Fellowship, when a small number of enthusiasts were struggling to keep afloat and to engender a glimmer of interest in George Eliot. That glimmer burst into flames many years ago and, nationally and internationally at least, shows no signs of going out. I wish could feel as confident about the local embers.
We began the year with an uneventful Annual General Meeting which was followed by an interesting and illuminating talk by Peter Lawrence, a local composer, about his 'George Eliot Miniatures', four delightful pieces which we hope to hear again in 2000.
Gabriel Woolf made his thirtieth visit to Warwickshire and, with Rosalind Shanks, presented 'A Celebration of George Eliot' at Nuneaton and Warwick Arts Centre. There was a second celebration involved as this was a special anniversary for the actor, much of whose professional life has been bound up with George Eliot and whose sensitive interpretation of her work has enriched our annual diary since 1969. To show our appreciation of his work with us, we presented him with a copy of the recently published Journals of George Eliot, edited by Margaret Harris and Judith Johnston. Despite the special nature of this performance bookings were worryingly low so I had to write again to local members and this second letter produced a very good response. Warwick Arts Centre theatre audience was, however, disappointing; even ticket holders failed to turn up. We were very glad that, because of rising costs there, we had already decided not to present the programme there again. The Chairman and I spent some time in the following months inspecting smaller theatres in south Warwickshire, not too far away from Warwick University, but found none suitable until we tried the refurbished Assembly Rooms in the Royal Pump Rooms at Leamington. They are so delightfully decorated that we had no hesitation in booking there - at several hundred pounds less than Warwick Arts!