English, Department of



John Burton

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 48 (2017)


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


The sheer number of years, forty, that Kathleen Adams was Secretary of the George Eliot Fellowship, is extraordinary, but that number does not do justice to the prodigious amount of time, energy and dedication that she devoted to the job.

Like many others, Kathleen came to George Eliot via her life rather than her works. As a grammar school girl from Barrs Hill in Coventry she had heard about Eliot; as an adult she learned details of her extraordinary life. That took her to the novels and then a commitment to tell people about them which was to dominate her life.

Bill Adams attended a meeting, actually the AGM, of the Fellowship in Nuneaton and went home as a committee member. Kathleen soon joined him and in 1968 she took over as Honorary Secretary. At this distance we don't know whether the existing committee resented or welcomed the newcomers from Coventry. Possibly a bit of both. The Fellowship they took on had about 30 members and met for an annual dinner, wreath-laying and lecture. Indeed, in the 1950s it had invited a young Barbara Hardy to lecture, and it had worked with Nuneaton Borough Council to establish the Memorial Gardens. But by the late 1960s it needed ideas, enthusiasm, leadership and new members, and for the next 35 years Kathleen and Bill supplied them all.