English, Department of



John Burton

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 45 (2014)


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


We can be pleased with the Fellowship's year in 2013. For some time now we have tried to add extra events to the well-established series of meetings built up over the years. In 2013 we looked towards Coventry to provide a theme for the year, and were delighted with the results, much helped, it has to be said, by the enthusiasm and new ideas brought to the Fellowship by Vanessa Oakes, whose writing skills have much enhanced our programme. The other major event for the year was our emergence, blinking and floundering, into the world of websites and Facebook (Twitter might well be waiting in the wings) and in this we have been much helped by designers Papertree Digital who produced a distinctive web presence for us and coped with our naivety, and by Juliet Hopper and Alex Hackitt-Anwyl who held our hands and persuaded us that we could do it.

The year started with the AGM in March, with the usual 30 or so members enjoying tea and cakes after the formal business was completed, discussing the future programme and watching slides of our trip to Florence the previous November. All this took place at Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre, which has been considerably improved in recent years and has now become our natural home.

In May we moved the annual day of George Eliot studies to Coventry. The old Blue Coat School is adjacent to Holy Trinity church, which Mary Ann Evans refused to attend with her father in 1842. The day started with a wonderful introduction to Coventry's history by Bill Adams. There were then papers from Dr Francis Twinn on the geographical landscape of The Mill on the Floss and John Burton on the Brays of Coventry. After lunch we held the first of three 'George Eliot's Coventry' walks, which had been planned by Vanessa Oakes and took us to several places important in the George Eliot story, with readings by actor Sonia Ritter, dressed in one of our George Eliot dresses! Accounts of the walks, and pictures, are available on our website.

Also in early summer last year we held the annual wreath laying event in the George Eliot Memorial Gardens. Guest of honour was member Joy Redfern, who is a regular and loyal participant in most of our events and she spoke warmly of her love of George Eliot and her links with the fellowship.