George Eliot - Middlemarch

A video talk

To be born a female with a formidable brain and an ugly face was a terrible handicap in Victorian England. Mary Ann Evans eventually gained fame as George Eliot and through her efforts made more money than any other woman of the Victorian age. Come with me into a world of passion and ambition, corruption and secrets, loyalty and faithlessness, and discover why Middlemarch is considered one of the world’s greatest works of fiction.

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This video is about 60 minutes full of intriguing information.

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A fascinating personal story

Mary Ann / Marian / Mrs Lewes / Mrs Cross and George Eliot – this remarkable woman went by many different names throughout her life. She shocked society by living with a married man, she was cut off by her father for her rejection of religious faith, and by her adored brother for her scandalous liaison. And yet she bore it all stoically and turned to writing as an escape. By her pen, George Eliot earned more than did any other woman in Victorian England.

George Eliot’s personal story is as fascinating as anything she wrote. Too clever for a Victorian girl, she taught herself several languages, was a talented pianist, became a loving stepmother to the sons of the man she loved, and she gradually won over the approval of society – even the Queen read and loved the novels of George Eliot.

‘Middlemarch’ – one of the few English novels written for grownup people.
― Virginia Woolf

Superbly written and psychologically compelling

Middlemarch has long been regarded as George Eliot’s finest work. Did you know that it was planned as separate stories – and yet it has been praised for its unity of purpose and theme. Eliot weaves together four plot lines – Dorothea and her disastrous marriage, Dr Lydgate and his tragic marriage to Rosamund Vincy, Mary Garth and her two suitors, and the Bulstrodes, he with a secret to hide from the world, and she willing to give up all for the man she loves. We are drawn into their stories as the author probes – marriages, ambitions, failures and successes are all examined. It’s all so psychologically compelling, and so superbly written.

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A life of painful struggles

Learn more about George Eliot’s life story, her painful struggles to find love in spite of her lack of beauty, her beginnings as an author, and then her marriage to a man much younger than herself (oh, I’d really love to know what happened on her disastrous honeymoon!).

Purchase the complete Video Talk (just $15 AU)

This Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately. Just $15, purchase access here.

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Discuss it with me

In the view of many critics, a reading life is woefully incomplete if it has not included this superb novel. Have you read and loved Middlemarch? Do you agree with Virginia Woolf’s puzzling statement that it is one of the few novels written for adults? Have you seen the excellent BBC adaptation of the book? Let’s discuss it here.

I very much enjoyed hearing your clear voice and of course the content. How difficult for her in age where brains were not appreciated by society unless under the guise of a man…but she showed tremendous fortitude to survive and live successfully.


Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I read Middlemarch & watched the mini series a couple of weeks ago so it is so fresh in my mind. It was one of my lockdown literary highlights. After seeing your talk I’m really feeling inspired to read another book by George Elliott.


I loved Susannah’s video. I feel I learned such a lot. And her knowledge and in particular her passion for George Eliot makes it hugely enjoyable. I loved the combination of life and then lots of info about Middlemarch itself. Wonderful!


Another wonderful talk, many thanks.


I loved Susannah’s video. I feel I learned such a lot. And her knowledge and in particular her passion for George Eliot makes it hugely enjoyable. I loved the combination of life and then lots of info about Middlemarch itself. Wonderful!

Discuss it with me

Have you read and loved Middlemarch? Let’s discuss it here.

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Featured image credit- Patrick Malahide as Mr Casaubon, Juliet Aubrey as Dorothea Brooke, and Rufus Sewell as Will Ladislaw in Middlemarch (1994),

Comments (6)

  1. Judith Stove

    Yes, Susannah! Middlemarch is so wonderful, and so was Eliot. I re-read Middlemarch in 2015, and was delighted anew. The depictions of the marriages are absolutely forensic, and riveting. And Eliot portrays so many brilliant characters and situations.

    I am so glad that the mid-Victorian women polymaths – Eliot, Harriet Martineau – are finally being recognised. They created fiction, they translated continental philosophy, they popularised key debates, they were all-round amazing.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Yes, George Eliot was utterly brilliant. Have you read ‘The Road to Middlemarch’, Judy? I think you’d enjoy it. Happy to lend it to you.


    Many thanks Susannah for such a wonderful talk. Very special during these Covid lockdown times in Melbourne.

    Much appreciated.

    Jennifer Turner

    • Susannah Fullerton

      I am delighted you enjoyed it so much, Jennifer. Wasn’t she a fascinating woman.
      It’s so tough for you Melburnians at the moment. Hang in there and let’s all hope that better times are just around the corner.


    Oh Susannah, when I was tasked with reading Middlemarch in my uni first year, if only you had been around to explain, as you do here, that the book is about four very different marriages. I’d have picked it up and begun reading with the ‘shape’ of it already in my head. Having listened to your talk on Eliot I am now ready to take it down from my bookshelf again. Something must have lingered, because it has remained on my shelves for more years than I care to admit to. Another wonderful talk, many thanks.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      So glad you found my talk helpful, Lyn. Middlemarch is such a great novel and so deep and complex, but one that every serious book-lover should read, so do pick it up again. Or try an audio version – that often makes the reading so much easier. It is well worth the effort!

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