All entries for Thursday 27 September 2007

September 27, 2007

Georgeanne Eliot

I was in Waterstone's in Coventry, handing over a CV, and in passing a large group of plump middle aged women waiting in line at the cash desk, I overheard the following being said in a dogmatic manner.

'You know, George Eliot is actually a woman - Georgeanne Eliot - because in 'er day, it was a bad thing to be a woman writer.'

The surrounding ladies 'oh really'ed and 'wow'ed the statement.

I almost stopped to correct them, but realised that the fault was so minor in this context (Eliot's real name was Mary Anne Evans - she had chosen the pen name 'George' because it was that of her lover), that if I did I would be looked up and down and sneered at for my pompousity. So I moved on.

Walking home I realised that although there was some misinformation being blithely tossed about, I had witnessed a very unlikely bunch of people taking an interest in historical literature and its context under the roof of a bookshop: wonderful. If any of them actually did take the interest which they conveyed in Eliot, then hopefully they'd nose through a biography, or jot to a computer and google her. This way the might be able to correct their friends themselves, and take that satisfaction which we all do from time to time by widening our own knowledge through passing personal interest and private study. I was glad, then, that I did not interfere, for I may have put them off.

September 2007

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