A portrait of George Eliot at 30 by Alexandre-Louis-François d'Albert-Durade. Her masterpiece Middlemarch is often claimed to be the greatest novel in the English language.
Henry James called her a ‘great, horse-faced bluestocking’. On the 200th anniversary of her birth, we celebrate George Eliot, a literary trailblazer with an endless appetite for ideas, living in a patriarchal time.
An 1870 portrait of Herman Melville painted by Joseph Oriel Eaton.
While clear-eyed about the country’s injustices, Melville never succumbed to cynicism. On the author’s bicentennial, American readers could use a dose of his ability to fuse realism with idealism.
John Stuart Mill.
The great thinker left thousands of comments in the margins of his personal library. Now these are being digitised and catalogued.
Perhaps the designers of the first Christmas card from 1840 were influenced by Leigh Hunt’s question: Is it right to spend, laugh and revel when there are so many people who live in isolation and poverty? John Calcott Horsely, curator and designer of the card, asked the painter, Sir Henry Cole, to show people being fed and clothed to remind his friends of the needs of the poor during this season.
Leigh Hunt is a nineteenth-century writer who grappled with the question: How can we celebrate and enjoy ourselves at this time of the year when there is so much misery in the world?