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Celebrate International Women’s Day by visiting ‘Exploring Eliot's Coventry’

International Women’s Day aims to eliminate discrimination against women worldwide. It also focuses on helping women gain full and equal participation in global developments. 

George Eliot's concepts of women's opportunities for self-dedication are demonstrated in her novels and personal life. Throughout her life, Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) translated, published, edited, chose not to have children and lived with a man whom she could not marry while society shunned them. 

She grew up in north Warwickshire and lived in Coventry with her father from 1841 to 1849. Using the pen name George Eliot, she went on to write some of the best-known novels written in English, inspired by the people and places from her early life.

She adopted or was given a number a names throughout her career, some were nicknames or variations of her birth name, while others reflected her relationship status. She chose her most famous name, George Eliot, to conceal her identity and gender. She hoped that this would allow her novels to be judged on their own merits at a time when women were discouraged from intellectual work. 

Eliot knew of the struggle to be treated on the same level as a man throughout her career, and her novels tell us more about women’s largely invisible lives at the time.

In fact, Mary Ann Evans made local and national social and cultural impact. When she moved to Coventry in 1841 she organised clothing donations to those in need. Her novels portray women as rounded characters with compelling situations.

‘Exploring Eliot's Coventry’ discusses her connections to Coventry and how local people and places influenced her writing career. Items on show in a display in our History Gallery until 26th of April and include her writing desk and writing board, portraits and statuettes, letters, and an opal ring. 

The Exploring Eliot project, funded through the Esmeé Fairburn Collections Fund, explores the fantastic George Eliot collections at Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery, Nuneaton Library, Coventry Archives and the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. This involves researching the collections and the connections between them. Through community workshops we are exploring Eliot through the Herbert’s collections and filmmaking. A new website will feature star items from the collections as well as content created in the workshops. To find out more and get involved please email

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