English, Department of



Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 22 (1991)


Published by The George Eliot Review Online https://GeorgeEliotReview.org


June 1990 marked the tenth anniversary of the unveiling of the memorial stone to George Eliot in Poets' Corner. The anniversary service was held as closely in content as possible to the one ten years earlier and our Guest of Honour was the Revd. Dr. EDW ARD CARPENTER K.C. V.O. who, as Dean of Westminster in 1980, conducted our service on that important day and had also been very much a part of our negotiations with the Abbey long before the project came to fruition. We have affectionate memories of our association with him during that time and it was particularly suitable that he should lay our wreath on the tenth anniversary. His own edited version of the address he gave in 1990 is published below.

The story, if it were told in its entirety and the evidence was available, of those who are memorialised in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey would make fascinating reading. Many of the illustrious whose names are there recorded had to wait long years for entry because their literary merit had yet to be firmly established or recognised; others who, though finally making it, had first to endure a pejorative judgement because their private lives were felt to be at variance with traditional norms of behaviour. Byron was a case in point in spite of giving his life for Greek independence. Thus his friend John Cam Hobhouse, an Old Westminster scholar, could not persuade the Dean of the day - and the decision had to made by him - to give his permission.