Special weekend to celebrate the life of Coventry author George Eliot - The Coventry Observer

18th Aug, 2022

Special weekend to celebrate the life of Coventry author George Eliot

A WEEKEND to celebrate the life of Coventry author George Eliot will take place at the end of the month, starting with an event from 10am to 4pm next Saturday, April 30, at Chilvers Coton Heritage Centre in Nuneaton.

The events have been organised by the George Eliot Fellowship.

The George Eliot statue in Nuneaton. Picture by John Burton. s


A talk entitled ‘George Eliot, Middlemarch and the Coventry Years’ will be given by David Paterson whose last work ‘Fair Seed-Time’ examined the historical background of the author’s writing and the relationship between Robert Evans and the Newdigates. This presentation examines the (perceived) similarities between Middlemarch and Coventry followed by the more general effects of her city years on Eliot’s writing of Middlemarch.

A presentation on Transforming Middlemarch will provide details about the fascinating project being undertaken by Prof Justin Smith and his team at DeMontford University in Leicester. Lead members include Dr Lucy Hobbs and Dr Anna Blackwell. It will shed light on the digital edition, before questions about the project or TV adaptation and there will be a 20-minute workshop, including a clip from the TV series, and a look at the script development process.

Katherine Fear and other cast members in Polly Button – a sell-out at the Abbey Theatre – will talk about how the production was put together. George Eliot was the narrator for the piece.

A ‘Shakespeare’s Sister’ talk will be given by Dr Valerie Fehlbaum who is is well-known to the Fellowship for her clear and precise lectures. Here she covers new ground by presenting her monologue on Shakespeare’s sister. George Eliot was described by a critic as ‘The Female Shakespeare’.

Astley church, described as Knebley in ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’. Picture by John Burton. s

The price for the day is £25 including refreshments and there is a buffet lunch for an extra £7.

Visit georgeeliot.org or call 07773 413907 for more and to book tickets.

Next Sunday, May 1, from 11am to 5pm, there is a George Eliot Country Tour – the first time it has been held for two years.

Arbury Hall itself will not open on the bank holiday but the gardens and grounds are, and organisers hope the tea rooms will be open too.

Visitors to the event will be able to see South Farm, the birthplace of George Eliot, and the tour will also take in Chilvers Coton, Astley and Griff, as well as the town centre sites relevant to the author.

A commemorative programme will give details of all the places visited. There will be some walking in Nuneaton and people will be able to spend as much time as they like in Arbury Park.

Tickets for the day – also available at georgeeliot.org or by calling 07773 413907 – are £25.

People are urged to wear sensible clothes, bring plenty to drink and even a picnic or packed lunch to enjoy in Arbury Park.

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