Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 48 (2017)
About 55 years ago when we were engaged to be married, Ruth came down from Scotland to Coventry for a holiday, and I was concerned to demonstrate to her that Warwickshire had much to offer to the visitor and prospective resident. Having, as I thought, exhausted the possibilities of Coventry, Kenilworth, Warwick etc., I asked her if there was anywhere else she would like to visit. I ought not to have been surprised, knowing that she had an English degree and was an English teacher, when she expressed a wish to discover more about George Eliot. So we took the Midland Red bus (no car in those days!) to Nuneaton and made for the local library to seek information about Marian Evans. The response of the librarian took us aback. "Oh, we've nothing here. You'll have to go to Coventry." So back we traveled and continued our search where we had started - not an auspicious start to our literary partnership!
A few years later, now firmly established in a teaching career in Coventry, Ruth had discovered the existence of a group called the George Eliot Fellowship, and we decided to attend one of its meetings that we had seen advertised. So once again we made the pilgrimage to Nuneaton, this time with greater success as we did indeed find the venue and sat through the meeting. Before it began however our attention was drawn to a couple who seemed to be in charge: a somewhat forbidding lady who reminded me of the words of Joyce Grenfell in one of her inimitable songs - 'stately as a galleon' - and a short, red-faced man with a mane of white hair, a red face, an aquiline nose and a cheerful demeanour. We were to discover that they were Kathleen and Bill Adams, the Secretary and Chairman of the Fellowship and its guiding spirits for over forty years.