The Mysterious Case of George Eliot’s Right Hand

Posted by er134 at Nov 19, 2013 02:44 PM |
Acclaimed George Eliot biographer delves into life of classic author at Victorian Studies Annual Lecture on Wednesday 20 November 2013

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 November 2013

This year’s Victorian Studies Annual Lecture, at the University of Leicester, ‘The Mysterious Case of George Eliot’s Right Hand’, will discuss one of the most towering figures in English literature—an author who broke new ground for women writers.

The talk will be delivered by award-winning biographer Professor Kathryn Hughes at 5.15pm on Wednesday 20 November 2013 in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre.

Professor Hughes is an award-winning author, literary journalist, broadcaster and lecturer who appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 and in the Guardian’s review pages.

Her subject, George Eliot, is the venerated author of such classics as Middlemarch, Silas Marner and The Mill on the Floss.

Professor Hughes’s George Eliot: The Last Victorian, won the James Tait Black award. She has also edited the multi-volume George Eliot: A Family History.

Professor Gail Marshall, Director of the University of Leicester’s Victorian Studies Centre, spoke of her excitement for the talk: “We’re very excited about hosting such an eminent biographer and academic as Professor Hughes. Her career is defined not just by great scholarship, but by bringing this great scholarship to a very wide audience.”

This year’s Annual lecture is the latest in a long line of popular and successful talks, and previous speakers have included the acclaimed biographer and editorial director of Chatto and Windus, Jenny Uglow, who talked about “Elizabeth Gaskell’s Wordsworthian Vein” in 2011.

Professor Marshall said: “George Eliot helped to define what we understand today as the archetypal Victorian novel. She developed realist modes of writing to tell compelling and challenging stories that still engage readers today.”

Victorian Britain was very much a man’s world – women were blocked from opportunities ranging from education, to careers, to property ownership.

Indeed, one of the only ways a woman could hope to become independent was by the pen – and so Mary Ann Evans, intelligent young woman and voracious reader, eventually did just that, becoming one of the most revered novelists of the time.

But even the world of letters was deeply gendered: in fear of having her work categorised with “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists” she styled herself ‘George Eliot’.

She is now known for such classics as the epic novel Middlemarch, standard reading for students and avid readers across the country. Julian Barnes and Martin Amis have both hailed it as the best novel in the English language.
Professor Marshall added: “Her characters translate very well to the modern world, as do her ideas, which still resonate with scores of readers today.”

The Victorian Studies Annual Lecture will take place at 5.15pm on Wednesday 20 November 2013 in the Peter Williams Lecture Theatre.

The lecture will be free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided after the talk.


Notes for editors

For further information contact:

Elizabeth-Anne Grummitt, Administrative Assistant: English, Modern Languages and History of Art and Film at:

For more information on Professor Kathryn Hughes, go to

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