Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 17 (1986)
Admirers of George Eliot owe an immense debt to Gordon S. Haight for his work on George Eliot, her life and her works. No-one studying the Nuneatonborn novelist can afford to miss the nine volumes of her letters which came out over a period of 24 years, edited by Haight, and yet it was aImost by chance that he became so involved that the letters grew into a life's work. In 1933 he joined Yale University where he had graduated ten years earlier. That same year he became interested in the collection of George Eliot letters at Yale and set himself a 'holiday task' of going over them with care - the 'holiday task' grew intc over 50 years' work and provided the literary world with not only the nine volumes of letters but a most readable and authoritative Biography, published in 1968. Rebecca West, the novelist and critic, described it as 'a triumph of scholarship'. Haight also published 'George Eliot and John Chapman', an annotated selection of the letters in one volume, and several editions of the novels. He was also the general editor of the Clarendon edition of George Eliot's novels, a series which began with his own edition of 'The Mill on the Floss'.
Dr. Haight was born in 1901 in Muskegon, Michigan, and after graduating at Yale taught in two schools before returning to Yale, a university with which he remained until his death, for after retirement in 1969 he became Emily Sanford Professor Emeritus, and he continued with his scholarly work on George Eliot until the end.