English, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 47 (2016)


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


I don't compare my intellectual capacity with Lydgate's, but I do remember the precise moment when I knew that the study and potentially the teaching of 'English' were absolutely what I wanted to commit myself to for the rest of my working life, an already distinctly 'mature' student though I was. That moment occurred during my first year at Birkbeck, when Barbara was lecturing on Samuel Richardson's vast epistolary work of fiction, Clarissa, and showing how Clarissa's syntax is one of the ways in which the nature of her intelligence is distinguished from that of every other character in the novel. Somehow what Barbara was saying wasn't just elucidating; it was compelling, and it was inspiring.