Peeping into Victorian Writers’ Rooms

Like the Victorian Peeper, I enjoy the Guardian’s series on writers’ rooms. On her site, she has kindly assembled a list of the featured Victorian Writers’ Rooms, including “The spartan shed behind a modest house in Ayot St Lawrence, built on a platform that rotated with the sun, in which George Bernard Shaw churned out his voluminous correspondence” and “the ‘perfection of warmth, snugness, and comfort’ that was the Haworth Parsonage parlour in which Charlotte Brontë wrote,” as well as the rooms of “Contemporary writers of particular interest to Victorianists.”

I looked around online a bit to see if I could find any images of George Eliot’s rooms to add to this collection, but I couldn’t seem to come up with one, though I learned that the museum in Nuneaton, Coventry has a “recreated drawing room” in which “they display her grand piano and writing desk.”

I find it interesting the particular kind of attachment different writers inspire in their readers. George Eliot certainly has many devoted readers (and a virtual visit to her grave provides evidence that they can be as passionate or as sentimental as, say, the average Bronte devotee–and, as a side note, apparently indifferent to the irony of leaving Bible verses as tributes to a famous non-believer). But I think it’s safe to say that she is not cherished by the general reading public the way Dickens is, or the Brontes are, and certainly not the way Jane Austen is. If the threatened promised big-screen version of Middlemarch ever comes out, maybe there will be a wave of Eliot-mania. But then, she was ambivalent about popular success herself, remarking in a letter that “if too many people like my novels, I must be doing something wrong.”

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