George Eliot is one of the most celebrated writers of the Victorian era, known for her insightful novels and unique perspective on life. But what many people don’t know is that George Eliot was actually the pen name of a woman named Mary Ann Evans. So why did she choose a male pseudonym?
The answer lies in the societal norms of the time. In the 19th century, women writers faced significant challenges in the literary world. Their work was often dismissed or overlooked simply because of their gender. Mary Ann Evans, determined to be taken seriously as a writer, made a bold decision to adopt a male pen name.
The name ‘George Eliot’ not only allowed Mary Ann Evans to overcome the prejudices of the time, but it also gave her the freedom to explore unconventional themes and ideas in her writing. By assuming a male identity, she was able to delve into the complexities of relationships, politics, and morality in a way that would not have been as readily accepted if she had written under her own name.
But the use of a male pseudonym was not the only secret that George Eliot held. She was also involved in a scandalous affair with a married man, George Henry Lewes. Lewes, a prominent philosopher and critic, was in an open marriage with his wife, Agnes Jervis. Despite societal disapproval, Eliot and Lewes lived together as a couple for over two decades.
Their relationship was not without challenges. Eliot faced criticism and condemnation from society for her involvement with a married man. However, she remained steadfast in her love for Lewes and defended their unconventional union.
Together, George Eliot and George Henry Lewes formed a formidable partnership, both personally and professionally. Lewes was a trusted confidant and advisor to Eliot, providing invaluable support and encouragement throughout her writing career. His influence can be seen in many of her novels, which often explore philosophical and moral dilemmas.
George Eliot’s decision to write under a male pen name and her affair with George Henry Lewes are just two examples of the unconventional choices she made in her life. These decisions allowed her to break free from the constraints of society and pursue her passion for writing. Today, she is remembered as one of the greatest literary voices of her time, a testament to her talent and determination.