#6: ‘It is never too late to be what you might have been.’ ―George Eliot
If you’ve ever felt yourself to be life’s ugly duckling or like things just aren’t taking off for you, the inspirational quotes, stories and, indeed, life story of George Eliot is just the thing for you.
In part because we at this point get to reveal to anyone not familiar with one of the titans of 19th century literature that George Eliot was a woman.
The woman who would become George Eliot was born Mary Anne Evans, an incredibly precocious and utterly brilliant young woman who had the bad luck to be born into a world that discriminated against her for being a woman and doubly so for an unfashionable face and figure—problems which, it will surprise no one, haven’t exactly dissipated.
Thankfully, neither have the novels of George Eliot, the pen name Evans chose when, like the Bronte Sisters before her, she felt a male pseudonym would give her a better chance at cracking into the literary world—and did she ever.
From Middlemarch to The Mill on the Floss, Adam Bede to Daniel Deronda, George Eliot stands today as second only to Charles Dickens himself among Victorian novelists—made all the more impressive by the fact that she started her writing career in her late 30s.
Eliot’s own perseverance lends extra poignancy to so many of the inspirational quotes which she grants her characters, most notably Dorothea from Middlemarch.
Arguably somewhat of a totem fashioned in Eliot’s own image, Dorothea, like her creator, is brilliant (if dogmatic) but overlooked due to her status as a woman and ‘plain’ features, and enters into a loveless marriage. Even so, after many years (and many more pages) she finds herself able to marry the man she loves.
It is Dorothea’s perseverance, rather than the Providence in which she so strongly believes, that allows her to finally begin to become what she might have been.
Her very existence as a character is a testament to George Eliot’s own perseverance, and it’s never too late to try and be just a little of what she was, and still is today—moralizing, inspirational quotes and all.