Drawing on George Eliot's own childhood experiences to craft an unforgettable story of first love, sibling rivalry and regret, The Mill on the Floss is edited with an introduction and notes by A.S. Byatt, author of Possession, in Penguin Classics. Brought up at Dorlcote Mill, Maggie Tulliver worships her brother Tom and is desperate to win the approval of her parents, but her passionate, wayward nature and her fierce intelligence bring her into constant conflict with her family. As she reaches adulthood, the clash between their expectations and her desires is painfully played out as she finds herself torn between her relationships with three very different men: her proud and stubborn brother; hunchbacked Tom Wakem, the son of her family's worst enemy; and the charismatic but dangerous Stephen Guest. With its poignant portrayal of sibling relationships, The Mill on the Floss is considered George Eliot's most autobiographical novel; it is also one of her most powerful and moving. In this edition, writer and critic A.S. Byatt, author of Possession, provides full explanatory notes and an introduction relating The Mill on the Floss to George Eliot's own life and times. Mary Ann Evans (1819-80) began her literary career as a translator, and later editor, of the Westminster Review. In 1857, she published Scenes of Clerical Life, the first of eight novels she would publish under the name of 'George Eliot', including The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch, and Daniel Deronda. If you enjoyed The Mill on the Floss, you might like Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, also available in Penguin Classics.
"As one comes back to [Eliot's] books after years of absence they pour out, even against our expectations, the same store of energy and heat, so that we want more than anything to idle in the warmth."
Mary Ann Evans was born on November 22, 1819, at Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire, England, the last child of an estate agent. During her girlhood, she went through a phase of evangelical piety, but her strong interest in philosophy and her friendship with religious freethinkers led to a break with orthodox religion. When one of these friends married in 1843, Mary Ann took over from his wife the task of translating D.F. Strauss’s The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (1846), a work that had deep effect on English rationalism. After her father’s death she settled in London and from 1851 to 1854 she served as a writer and editor of the Westminster Review, the organ of the Radical party. In London she met she met George Henry Lewes, a journalist and advanced thinker. Lewes was separated from his wife, who had had two sons by another man, but had been unable to obtain a divorce. In a step daring for Victorian times, Mary Ann Evans began living openly with Lewes in 1854, in a union they both considered as sacred as a legal marriage and one that lasted until his death in 1878.
With Lewes’s encouragement, Mary Ann Evans wrote her first fictional work, “The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton,” for Blackwood’s Magazine in 1857; it was followed by two more stories published under the pseudonym George Elliot–“George” because it was Lewes’s name and “Eliot” because, she said, it was good mouth-filling, easily pronounced word.” At the age of thirty-nine she used her memories of Warwickshire to write her first long novel, Adam Bede (1859), a book that established her as the foremost woman novelist in her day. Then came The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), and Romola (1863). Her masterpiece and one of the greatest English novels, Middlemarch, was published in 1871-72. Her last work was Daniel Deronda (1876). After Lewes’s death George Eliot married John Walter Cross. He was forty; she was sixty-one. Before her death on December 22, 1880, she had been recognized by her contemporaries as the greatest living writer of English fiction.
A. S. BYATT is the author of numerous novels, including The Children’s Book, The Biographer’s Tale, and Possession, which was awarded the Booker Prize. She has also written two novellas, published together as Angels & Insects, five collections of short stories, and several works of nonfiction. A distinguished critic and author, and the recipient of the 2016 Erasmus Prize for her “inspiring contribution to ‘life writing,’” she lives in London.
Pub Date: April 29, 2003
1.2" H x 7.7" L x 5.0" W