"Most of us who turn to any subject we love remember some morning or evening hour when we got on a high stool to reach down an untried volume, or sat with parted lips listening to a new talker, or for very lack of books began to listen to the voices within, as the first traceable beginning of our love." - George Eliot.
This quote is sometimes incorrectly attributed to T.S. Eliot, but actually comes from Chapter 15 of Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871).
George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans or Marian Evans (she spelled her name both ways at different points in her life) who was born in Warwickshire, England in 1819 and educated in private schools and by tutors. At the age of 17 she took charge of the family household following the death of her mother. After her father died in 1849, when she was 30 years old, she traveled in Europe before settling in London where she began to write for the Westminster Review. She became the center of a literary circle, which included the philosopher and literary critic George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived until his death in 1878 (a scandalous situation for the time as he remained married to his wife throughout, but set up house with Eliot).
She was first published in 1857, and her first novel, Adam Bede, was published in 1859. She is best remembered for Adam Bede, The Mill on The Floss, Silas Marner and Middlemarch. In 1880, she married an old friend, John Cross, who was 20 years her junior. They honeymooned in Venice. A few months later she died of a kidney ailment.
Henry James once said of her, "She has a low forehead, a dull grey eye, a vast pendulous nose, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth and a chin and jawbone qui n'en finissent pas... Now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end, as I ended, in falling in love with her. Yes behold me in love with this great horse-faced bluestocking."
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