10 Gorgeous Illustrations of George Eliot Characters From the Time Before GIFs


Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch comes out next week, a personal exploration of the classic novel by a New Yorker staff writer. Obsessions with the work of George Eliot long predate her, of course. Browsing through the British Library’s online gallery of images out-of-copyright, I came across another book about a writer’s obsession with Eliot, published 1888, by one Lisbeth Gooch Seguin (great name, no?). At the time her little tribute was produced, Eliot had been dead just eight short years. The illustrations, done by eminent artists of the period, depict favorite characters from the books; short essays on their meaning accompany them. For the kids reading this: this is what people did before they could simply find GIFs to express their admiration, using things called pens and paper.

You can read the whole book at the Open Library, if you please: I quite like it.

Maggie Tulliver, from The Mill on the Floss

Adam Bede

Dorothea Brooke, later Casaubon, from Middlemarch

Celia Brooke, from Middlemarch

Dorothea with her elderly husband Casaubon, from Middlemarch

Dr. Lydgate, and his wife Rosamond, from Middlemarch

Dorothea surprising Will Ladislaw

Dorothea and a devastated Casaubon, from Middlemarch

Gwendolen Harleth, from Daniel Deronda

Gwendolen Harleth curses her jewels, which now seem poisonous to her, in Daniel Deronda.