I’ll watch any British television adaptation of a historical novel. Starting with PBS’s Masterpiece Theater in the 1970s, long-form British television was an exotic commodity for West Coast American youth like me, and it proved to be a great introduction to British Victorian novels.
She was born Mary Ann Evans (1819 – 1880), but she is mostly known by her pen name George Eliot. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, publishing novels, and poems, plus she was a journalist and translator. She wrote seven novels: Adam Bede (1859), The Mill On The Floss (1860, FYI, the “Floss” in Eliot’s book is a river, not a dental hygiene tool), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1862), Felix Holt, The Radical (1866) Middlemarch (1871) and Daniel Deronda (1876).
Although female writers published under their own names during her lifetime, Eliot wanted to escape the stereotype of women’s writing as just lighthearted romances. She also wanted to have her fiction work be separate from her extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic, and she desired to keep her private life from public scrutiny.
Beginning in 1854, and for the next 24 years, she lived with George Lewes who remained married to another woman. This caused a major scandal; London society shunned them, and many people stopped talking to the couple.
Middlemarch is perpetually on the short list of the Greatest Novels in the English language. A new film version is currently in production. All of her fiction has had film adaptations, and numerous times for television and theatre. In 1968 it was adapted into a BBC-produced mini-series. In 1994 it was again adapted by the BBC with a screenplay by gay writer/director Andrew Davies. This series was a critical and financial success and revived public interest in the adaptation of classics.