English, Department of



John Burton

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 46 (2015)


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


No wonder we all felt exhausted by December! In preparing this report I have realized what an extraordinary number of things the Fellowship did last year; certainly the biggest workload since I became chairman but, one hopes, a year which brought new insights and pleasures to members and non-members we attract to our events.

Our normal pattern of meetings took place but was supplemented by several other large-scale events. Thus the AGM in March, which included the routine election of officers and council members, was enclosed by two much more exciting events. In February we had a full house at Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre for a rehearsed read-through by professional actors of A Ploughed Heart by Vanessa Oakes, a beguiling play which links the young Mary Ann in her Coventry days with a Japanese visitor in search of the real George Eliot today. Then in March, as well as the AGM we had a study group at Aldersgate in Nuneaton, and the following day another sold out meeting at Chilvers Coton to hear Rebecca Mead, on tour from the USA and now an old friend of the Fellowship, talk about her delightful book The Road to Middlemarch. Members and visitors bought 40 copies that day and several more since!

For many years Brenda Evans has produced two events a year where members meet to discuss a book - sometimes by George Eliot but not always, and her regular team of experts includes John Rignall, Eric Lees and Vivienne Wood, with Sheila Woolf a recent addition. The Fellowship has also set up a more extended and in depth reading group, usually attended by 12 to 15 members, meeting either at Griff House in the snug, or at Bedworth Almshouses. A huge amount of preparation for these meetings (usually between four and six sessions per book) is undertaken by Denis Baylis and Vivienne Wood and I thank them here for all their efforts on our behalf. It is our intention to put some of their background notes and discussion points they raise onto our website, so that others might read them or use them in reading groups elsewhere. In 2014 the chosen text was The Mill on the Floss and so to discuss it at Griff House was an added pleasure.