George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

On 21st June 1980 a memorial stone for George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist, was unveiled in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. The sculptor was John Skelton and the inscription reads:

GEORGE ELIOT Mary Ann Evans 1819-1880 Buried at Highgate

Around the edge of the stone is:

The first condition of human goodness is something to love; the second something to reverence.

The stone is set between memorials to Dylan Thomas and W.H. Auden and the quote is taken from Scenes of Clerical Life. The stone was unveiled by Gordon Haight of Yale University, who also gave the address. Tenniel Evans, great-great nephew of the novelist and President of the George Eliot Fellowship gave a reading, as did Margaret Wolfit and Gabriel Woolf. A wreath of laurel and white flowers was laid on the stone by Mr A.F.Adams.

Mary Ann Evans was born at South Farm, Arbury near Nuneaton on 22nd November 1819. In 1841 she moved to Coventry and she later travelled abroad. Back in London she edited the Westminster Review. In 1854 she went to Germany with George Henry Lewes and lived with him there. Her first work of fiction was Scenes from Clerical Life, a book about people and places in her native town, followed by Adam Bede, published under the nom de plume George Eliot. Her other well-known works are Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch. In May 1880 she married a banker John Walter Cross but died a few months later on 22nd December 1880. She is buried at Highgate cemetery in London. Many modern critics regard her as the greatest novelist of the 19th century.

Further reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography


22nd November 1819


22nd December 1880


21st June 1980


Writer; novelist


South Transept; Poets' Corner

Memorial Type


Material Type


George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
George Eliot (Mary Ann Cross (née Evans)) replica by François D'Albert Durade

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster