Hard Cover. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1871. First Edition. Near Fine.
Eight volumes. First edition, first printing. Modern navy cloth with gilt lettering and ruling to spine. An excellent set, bound with the half-titles, former owner inscription to first blank, some very faint spotting, else fine. Overall, a bright and clean set. Middlemarch is the seventh novel by Mary Anne Evans, a top writer of the Victorian Era who chose to write under a male pseudonym so that her works would be taken more seriously. In addition to writing novels, she edited and contributed to the left-wing journal The Westminster Review as one of the only female editors of her time. Her novels were praised for being socially and politically conscious and for their realistic depictions of country life. Set in the fictional town Midlands in Middlemarch (thought to be based on Coventry) in the early 19th century, Middlemarch tells the interwoven stories of three couples' marriages, which are unhappy for a range of romantic and financial reasons. Throughout the text, Eliot references contemporary political events, including the death of George IV, the Reform Act of 1832, and the Industrial Revolution. The novel is divided into eight parts, reflecting its initial serial publication; Volume I contains "Miss Brooke" and "Old and Young," Volume II has "Waiting for Death" and "Three Love Problems," Volume III has "The Dead Hand" and "The Widow and the Wife," and Volume IV contains "Two Temptations" and "Sunset and Sunrise." Middlemarch is widely considered Eliot's masterpiece; when she was asked her opinion on the novel, her contemporary Emily Dickinson responded, "What do I think of Middlemarch? What do I think of glory - except that in a few instances 'this mortal has already put on immortality.'" Indeed, Virginia Woolf praised Middlemarch as the "magnificent book, which with all its imperfections, is one of the few English books written for grown-up people."