As some dismal signs of American women’s condition — the creeped-out smile squeezed between a governor’s hands, my ex-professional neighbor loping around an Amazon warehouse, the Asian women slain in Georgia — keep flashing at me, I wonder what George Eliot (1819–1880) would have thought of it all.
Eliot was born with the name Mary Anne Evans, and with off-putting looks and a restless, powerful brain. Studying on the side as a young woman (she was becoming one of the last true polymaths), she kept house for and nursed her widowed father, who forced her to attend church on the principle …
This article appears as “An Extraordinary Victorian” in the July 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.
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