Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 17 (1986)
The editor's Introduction to an author's first work of fiction published in a new edition is of very special interest, since it is concerned with the foundations of a writer's art. The story of the transformation of Marian Lewes, nee Mary Ann Evans, into George Eliot is well known, and she has never appeared more charming than in her own account of how she came to write fiction. Thomas A. Noble's Introduction quotes freely from George Eliot's Autograph Journal and from letters, bringing vividly to life the new author of fiction and her generous publisher, John Blackwood. She was already an established writer and thinker, and her defence of her art as 'real and concrete', in response to BIackwood's comments, foretells the stature she was to achieve later. The editor gives full recognition to the part played by George Henry Lewes in launching George Eliot on her career as a novelist.
After serial publication of the stories in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (Maga) in 1857, the first edition in book form came out in January 1858, and this text has been chosen for the Clarendon Edition. The editor considers the text of the first edition to be superior since it includes corrections made by George Eliot to the manuscript, and it retains speech in dialect. The editor makes a number of emendations to the copy-text, most of which were made by George Eliot in Iater editions.