Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 17 (1986)
The George Eliot Fellowship feels a great sense of achievement today, for. after two years of work and effort, we now have George Eliot in the heart of 'Milby' - the name she chose for Nuneaton. We are proud to have played so Iarge a part in having this fine memorial statue erected as a token of our admiration of a great but warm and human woman. What she would have thought of the statue we have no way of knowing. But, although she was a diffident person, I Iike to think she would have been warmed and touched that so many people, in all parts of the world, admire her work enough to want to commemorate her in this way.
But she was not always so accepted. In 1854 she began to Iive with George Henry Lewes although he could not divorce a faithless wife. They both regarded the relationship as a real 'marriage' and remained devoted and faithful until his death 24 years later. But their liaison alienated her friends, and her family here in Nuneaton disowned her. Although she much later became reconciled with her family 3t Griff House, she died before she had the opportunity to come home and see again that part of England which she loved so much and which inspired a great deal of what she wrote.
The world is very much changed since she was ostracised for living with a man who couldn't marry her, and we see her life with Lewes in a much different Iight from the Victorian one. Nowadays, her Iifestyle would raise few eyebrows.