The 2018 Hilda Hulme Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Professor Dame Gillian Beer

Lectures and seminars will be led by the following people:

Professor Rosemary Ashton (UCL/IES)
Professor Laurel Brake (Birkbeck/IES)
Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck/IES)
Dr Ruth Abbott (Cambridge)
Professor Hilary Fraser (Birkbeck)

Daily Schedule

Monday 21 May

10.30 Registration and tea/coffee
11.00 Introduction to the week

‘How George Eliot came to Write Fiction’. Extracts from Eliot’s letters and essays, leading up to the ‘realism manifesto’ in Chapter 17 of Adam Bede, will be provided at the lecture.

12.45 Lunch

Adam Bede and the Question of realism.

16.00 Library time Senate House Library 

Researchers’ choice. You can use this for preparation or open-ended research of your own

17.30 Reception

Tuesday 22 May


‘George Eliot and Print Media: The Making of a Woman of Letters’.

Eliot’s career, from her early Coventry networks, through her Westminster Review editing and periodical writing to the marketing and serial publication of the major novels in the context of the contemporary press, Review and print culture, journalism and authorship.

Please read the following chapters and articles:

Brake, Laurel. ‘ “Silly Novels” ‘? Gender and the Westminster Review at mid-century’ in Print and Transition, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 2001, pp. 87-109.

Linda H. Peterson, Chaps 1 and 2. ‘The Nineteenth-Century Profession of Letters and the Woman Author’ and ‘Inventing the Woman of Letters: Harriet Martineau in the Literary Marketplace’ in Becoming a Woman of Letters, Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP 2009.

J. A. Sutherland, Chaps 1 and 9, ‘Novel Publishing 1830-1870’ and ‘Marketing Middlemarch’ in Victorian Novelists and Publishers, Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1978.

11.30 Tea and coffee
12.00 Independent seminar groups

In these 1-hour seminars each group will discuss through the week a number of contemporary nineteenth-century reviews (provided) of George Eliot’s fiction and report back on their findings at the end of the week.

12.45 Lunch

Themes will include the ubiquity of print, the press, publishers of George Eliot such as Blackwood and George Smith and their lists, the continuities between the serial and book economics and texts.

Please read three articles by Eliot, Marian Evans as she was then: ‘Translations and Translators’, Leader 1855; ‘Silly Novels by Lady Novelists’ and ‘The Natural History of German Life’ in Westminster Review 1856. These can be accessed in Essays by George Eliot, but preferably online in context through the C19 ProQuest platform or, for the Leader, ncse (nineteenth-century serial edition) or in the print editions of journals in the Senate House Library.  

16.00 Library time

Wednesday 23 May


‘Patterning of Power in Middlemarch, with a footnote on Daniel Deronda’

For preparation please read Middlemarch, Chapters 1 and 72, 11 and 12, and Book 4, ‘Three Love Problems’, and Daniel Deronda, Chapters 31 and 35.

There will be a handout of short extracts from a text known to both Eliot and Lewes, Hegel’s Phenomenology: this discussion of self-consciousness and power will be explicated in the lecture.

11.30 Tea and coffee
12.00 Indepedent seminar groups
12.45 Lunch
14.00 Excursion: Tour of George Eliot’s London, Professor Ruth Livesey (provisional)

'“Off with Her Head”: Lewis Carroll and Violence.'

Thursday 24 May

10.00 Lecture: DR RUTH ABBOTT

‘George Eliot’s notebooks: forms of research’.

An overview of George Eliot’s practices with some case studies drawn from the speaker’s own photographs and transcriptions that illuminate Eliot’s literary work, particularly her excerpting of poetry. Eliot’s investigations were always of and through form. The notebooks open up a critical question that requires exploration: the relation between compositional practices and scholarly practices and how to evolve a non-teleological methodology that avoids giving one priority over the other.

Reading (circulated in advance): ‘Yale Beinecke GEN MSS 963, IV 7’.

11.30 Tea and coffee
12.00 Indepedent seminar groups
12.45 Lunch
14.00 Seminar: DR RUTH ABBOTT

Seminar title tbc.

16.00 Library time Senate House Library

Friday 25 May


‘George Eliot’s Renaissance: Romola

11.30 Tea and coffee
12.00 Independent Seminar Groups convene to report back on their work 
12.45 Lunch

Topics raised by Romola – Writing the Past, England and Italy, Literature and the Visual Arts.

16.00 Closing remarks and general discussion