Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss what Virginia Woolf called ‘one of the few English novels written for grown-up people’. It was written by George Eliot, the pen name of Mary Anne Evans (1819-80), published in 8 parts in 1871-72, and was originally two separate stories which became woven together. One, ‘Middlemarch’, focused on a doctor, Tertius Lydgate and the other, ‘Miss Brooke’, on Dorothea Brooke who became the central figure in the finished work. The events are set in a small town in the Midlands, surrounded by farmland, leading up to the Reform Act 1832, and the novel explores the potential to change in matters of religion, social status, marriage and politics, and is particularly concerned with the opportunities available to women to lead fulfilling lives.

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  • Rosemary Ashton 10 episodes
    Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at University College London
  • Kathryn Hughes No other episodes
    Professor of Life Writing at the University of East Anglia
  • John Bowen 6 episodes
    Professor of Nineteenth-Century Literature at the University of York

Reading list

  • George Eliot: A Life
    Rosemary Ashton (Faber & Faber, 2013) Google Books →
  • George Eliot
    Gillian Beer (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1986) Google Books →
  • The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot, Her Letters and Fiction
    Rosemarie Bodenheimer (Cornell University Press, 1996) Google Books →
  • Middlemarch in the Twenty-First Century
    Karen Chase (ed.) (Oxford University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Middlemarch
    George Eliot (ed. Rosemary Ashton) (Penguin, 1994) Google Books →
  • Selected Critical Writings
    George Eliot (ed. Rosemary Ashton) (Oxford Paperbacks, 1998) Google Books →
  • George Eliot: The Last Victorian
    Kathryn Hughes (Fourth Estate, 1998) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot
    George Levine (ed.) (Cambridge University Press, 2001) Google Books →
  • The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot
    Rebecca Mead (Granta, 2014) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: b09z1dd7

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09z1dd7

Auto-category: 823.8 (English fiction)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, George Eliot's Middlemarch is, according to Virginia Woolf, one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.