English, Department of



J.C. Trewin

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)


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


“George Eliot" seems to be fashionable at the moment. I gather that Silas Marner is planned for television. Now Margaret Wolfit, Sir Donald's actress daughter, has managed to get her single-handed stage version of The Mill On The Floss into two hours.

For some it is the most immediately appealing of all the books; and it is good to see its problems yield to so direct an approach.

Margaret Wolfit has the right kind of modesty. She does not approach her protean task as if she were launching a battleship, but talks her way quietly into the narrative, establishing everyone firmly without superfluous histrionics, and keeping the line clear and straight.

It is a lot to ask; still she answers it in both drama and performance. We are never at odds with the tale of that sister and brother, Tom and Maggie Tulliver, that ends in the famous tragedy on the flooded river.

The actress's speaking lifts the scene from the text without loss; The house was rightly still in those closing moments. "The boat reappeared - but brother and sister had gone down in an embrace never to be parted. "