Date of this Version
Published in George Eliot—George Henry Lewes Studies, Vol. 69, No. 1, (2017), pp. 2-34. doi:10.5325/georelioghlstud.69.1.0002
This article examines the “protection” and “encouragement” George Henry Lewes provided to Eliot throughout her fiction-writing career. According to biographers, Lewes showed his selfless devotion to Eliot by encouraging her to begin and continue writing fiction; by fostering the mystery of her authorship; by managing her finances; by negotiating her publishing contracts; by managing her schedule; by hosting a salon to promote her books; and by staying close by her side for twenty-four years until death parted them. By reconsidering each element of Lewes’s devotion separately, Rilett challenges the prevailing construction of the Eliot–Lewes relationship as the ideal partnership of literary agent and author and the perfect marriage. Rilett’s revisionist interpretation seeks to open up Eliot’s fiction to productive new biographical readings for a new generation of scholars.