Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 37 (2006) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
Our year began uneventfully with the AGM held for the first time at the Heritage Centre with the added advantage of easy and free parking and the opportunity to provide refreshments. There were no changes to the Fellowship Council or to the officers. The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor John Gazey, had suggested that there should be a literary lunch in Coventry to celebrate George Eliot and this took place on 16 April. We had worked with the Mayor's secretary in making all the arrangements but the first disappointment was that, on arrival at the splendid St Mary's Guildhall, the promised tables for lunch were not there. The Lord Mayor's secretary had gone on selling tickets way beyond the capacity of the hall and so there was no room for us to be seated at tables for lunch. The rather mediocre lunch had to be eaten while sitting in the rows of chairs and this was less than comfortable. However, the highlight of the literary lunch was undoubtedly the readings given by Gabriel Woolf and Rosalind Shanks which included the trial of Hetty Sorrel from Adam Bede. George Eliot set the trial unmistakeably in St Mary's Hall and to have it read to us in those memorable surroundings was particularly moving. The large audience enjoyed this contribution to the occassion and the less than successful lunch arrangements were happily excluded from their minds as they left the hall in a warm glow raised by these two splendid readers.
The George Eliot Day was a little different at Nuneaton Town Hall in May as we decided to widen the theme by calling it 'The Warwickshire Pen'. We had a fascinating look at Shakespeare and his Warwickshire Background, with slides, by Roger Pringle, Director of the Shakespeare Centre at Stratford upon Avon. Gabriel Woolf gave us his Rupert Brooke programme which told us a lot about his life and his poetry, Professor James Booth of the Philip Larkin Society gave us a paper on Larkin's poetry and the day closed with an excellent slide show of George Eliot's Warwickshire by John Burton with an easy and attractive narration which added a great deal to the presentation. With nearly fifty people attending and with an excellent buffet lunch it was all an enormous success.
The Nuneaton wreath-laying took place on 12 June with John Letts, sculptor of the George Eliot statue in the centre of Nuneaton, as our special guest. His wonderful statue had been knocked off its plinth by a brewery lorry delivering, ironically, to the Felix Holt pub! By the time John spoke to us the statue had been awaiting a new plinth for months but she was eventually restored to her rightful place by the end of the year.