ELIOT, GEORGE (1819-1880, novelist and poet)
Lot 71
ELIOT, GEORGE (1819-1880, novelist and poet)
Sold for £1,800 (US$ 2,889) inc. premium

Lot Details
ELIOT, GEORGE (1819-1880, novelist and poet)
DELIGHTFUL AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED ('Your loving Grandmamma'), to 'My dear little Maudie' [Maud Southwood Lewes, the four-year-old daughter of George Lewes's eldest son Charles Lee Lewes], expressing pleasure, in an appropriate style, on receiving her letter ('...I was very glad to have a letter from you this morning. I read it aloud to Grandpapa before breakfast. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, & Maudie was talking to us in her letter. We were very happy...'), describing late summer in Surrey ('...There are a great many tall trees all around us, & sometimes there are squirrels with bushy tails running up them so fast that you could hardly catch sight of them. There are little snakes in the cucumber bed. They like to be there, because it keeps them warm. Last year there were a great many moles, which are little black creatures with tiny white hands, & with these hands they scratch themselves holes for a long way under ground, & throw out the earth in little hills above them. That spoils the grass, but the moles do not mean to be naughty. They are only working very hard to make themselves houses...'), anticipating that she will have grown next time they see her ('...For little girls grow as the flowers do, & get taller & taller & their faces a little larger. But Grandpapa & Grandmamma would know you were their little Maudie if they met you quite alone in the street without Mamma, & they would want you to come with them & take care of you. They would know you because your little nose, & mouth, & eyes, & your hair, are not exactly like other little girls', & still more because they would remember how you say "Grandpapa"...'), telling her about G.H. Lewes's health ('...Grandpapa is better than he was, & has not so many pains in his poor toes. You never had any pains in your toes Maudie. I know you are very sorry that Grandpapa should have pains...'), giving her news of 'Baby' ('...Her cheeks are pink, & she looks stronger than she did when she first came down...She tries to say a few words, but the only word she is clever in is "Papa"...'), sending their love to her and her sister Blanche and laying out all the kisses [two each denoted with asterisks] she should give her mother, father and sister and the two 'you must keep for yourself', 4 pages, octavo, the last page slightly time-stained where folded, headed stationery of The Heights, Witley, near Godalming, 4 September 1878

Footnotes

  • THIS IS ONE OF ONLY TWO KNOWN LETTERS THAT GEORGE ELIOT SIGNED 'GRANDMAMMA'; the other was to Maud's sister Blanche on 24 July 1879. Both letters are published in The George Eliot Letters, edited by G. S. Haight, 1954. The grand-maternal style George Eliot adopts in writing to her 'adoptive' four-year-old granddaughter is charming and unusual.

    Maud (1874-1942) married John Rowland Hopwood. Her father, Charles Lee Lewes (1842-1891), Principal Clerk at the Post Office, suggested songs for Mirah in Daniel Deronda, was one of the only people George Eliot would allow to visit her after Lewes's death, and in her last months he became her mainstay, the 'son' who never disappointed her. He gave her away when she married John Cross.
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