The statue depicts George Eliot in contemporary dress, she is seated on a low wall, with one arm on her knee, her face lowered to look at the viewer. She is shown as a plain woman as she was in real life, her large features have been softened as if in thought. The woman is looking down and appears self-contained and deep in thought.
This statue was unveiled by Mr Jonathon G. Ouvry, the president of the George Eliot Fellowship and the great grandson of the George Henry Lewes the married man that George Eliot lived with for 24 years. The statue contains a time capsule, placed beneath the statue, it contains the list of subscribers who gave to the statue appeal; a biography of George Eliot by Kathleen Adams, the Fellowship secretary; photographs of the sculptor; a copy of the local paper The Evening Tribune from 17 March 1986, which contains an article on the statue; and a George Eliot postcard.
George Eliot was the pseudonym used by the novelist Mary Anne Evans. She was born at Arbury Farm, Astley, near Nuneaton in 1819. She took charge of the family household when her mother died (1836), and was taught at home. After the death of her father (1849) she travelled abroad, then settled in London, and began to write for the Westminster Review. She became assistant editor, and the centre of a literary circle, one of whose members, George Henry Lewes, she lived for twenty four years despite the fact that he was a married man. Whilst they considered their relationship to be equal to that of marriage, the arrangement alienated them from many of their friends and family and she spent much of her life in London.
Despite her displacement from her home town she remained attached to Nuneaton and used it in her novels as the town of 'Milby'. Her first story appeared in 1857. Her major novels were Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871--2), and Daniel Deronda (1876). After Lewes's death (1878), she married an old friend, John Cross, in 1880, but died soon after.
On front face of plinth: 'GEORGE ELIOT / 1819-1880 / BORN AT ARBURY, NUNEATON / UNVEILED BY / JOHNATHAN G. OUVRY / PRESIDENT OF THE GEORGE ELIOT FELLOWSHIP / GREAT GREAT GRANDSON OF G.H. LEWES / MARCH 22nd 1986 / ERECTED BY PUBLIC SUBSCRIPTION'
On left side of plinth; 'THE MAJOR WORKS OF GEORGE ELIOT / 1857-8 SCENE OF CLERICAL / 1859 ADAM BEDE / 1860 THE MILL ON THE FLOSS / 1861 SILAS MARNER / 1862-3 ROMOLA / 1866 FELIX HOLT / 1871-2 MIDDLEMARCH / 1876 DANIEL DERONDA'
On right side of plinth: 'MARY ANN EVANS (GEORGE ELIOT) / NOVELIST, ESSAYIST, JOURNALIST AND POET / LIVED AT GRIFF HOUSE UNTIL 1840 WHEN SHE / MOVED TO COVENTRY AND LATER TO LONDON / FROM 1854 TO 1878 SHE LIVED WITH G.H. LEWES / WHO ENCOURAGED HER TO WRITE FICTION. HER / NOVELS BROUGHT HER WORLD WIDE FAME. / IN MAY 1880 SHE MARRIED J.W. GROSS AND DIED / IN DECEMBER AT 4, CHEYNE WALK, CHELSEA / SHE IS BURIED IN HIGHGATE CEMETERY, LONDON'
PMSA recording information