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Welcome to criminalize a production of scandal and audio in partnership with I Heart Radio. Hello and welcome to the second season of criminality. This season, we're exploring the lives and motivations of some of the most notorious stalkers throughout history. I'm Maria Tomoaki. And I'm Holly Fry. And today we are going to be talking about one of the leading English novelists of the 19th century, George Eliot. Don't let that name fool you. If you don't know. We're going to give you a spoiler right now.


George Eliot was a woman.


Well, there are something like three dozen plus biographies about George Eliot. But here's the thing. There are still questions about her. We don't know everything, but we do know quite a bit. Eliot was born as Mary Ann Evans in November of 1819 in the English countryside. But in 1850, she moved to London. And that's really where her story, certainly as a public figure, truly begins. Absolutely. So her move to London is what kicked off the time in her life when Marion Evans transformed from her father's, quote, little wench into the urban intellectual that we know her as today.


A few years later in London, in about 1857, Marianne published her first work of fiction, which was called Scenes of Clerical Life in Blackwood's magazine. And it's in this moment she became George Eliot, which was the name she continued to go by even after everyone knew that she was using a pseudonym. Yes.


Scenes of clerical life, by the way, is actually three short stories that initially ran separately in the magazine. And now they're kind of grouped together as one larger piece of fiction. And each story features a character that is a member of the clergy. It's all set in the same fictional town, which is milby. That clergy character isn't always like the most prominent or important character in the story, but each one has a member of the clergy. And those three together were eventually published as a two volume set under the title Scenes of Clerical Life outside of the magazine, also in 1859.


So just two years later, George Eliot turned 40 and when she turned 40, she also published her first novel, which became an instant bestseller. It was known that even Queen Victoria was a fan of this novel, and because of this instant bestseller, one of her best known works, The Mill on the Floss, was published almost immediately after.


So you may have some questions because it is probably pretty clear to you by this point that George Eliot's life was not really at all like most women at this time. The Victorian era was, of course, a time when women were supposed to be the mistresses of the household. They were often called. And we have used this phrase on the show before and we likely will. Again, the angel in the house, Virginia Woolf, described these so-called angels as, quote, immensely sympathetic, immensely charming and utterly unselfish.


I am reminded of Queen Victoria's writing where she kind of equates like being a woman, even if you are the ruler of an empire, at the end of the day, you're still a woman. You know, she compares like once you become pregnant, you're just like livestock. Like she it's a great equalizer being a woman. Yeah. That's the comparison to bring up, actually. Right.


But these angels also did not have the right to vote, sue or own property. Also super weird when you consider that the head of the empire was a woman. And during the emerging industrial revolution in England, many of these women worked under abysmal and dangerous conditions. Eliot, on the other hand, was really pursuing a more radical life, taking a role that at that point was strictly the domain of men. She proposed marriage to a renowned polymath, Herbert Spencer, and he ultimately did reject her.


But she also then stirred up scandal when she and the writer George Henry Lewis began a romance. George, by the way, was married to a woman named Agnes Jarvis. But when George and Eliot met in 1851, by 1854, they'd moved in together. And here's the thing that moved in together openly while Lewis was still married. And this was such a big deal that Elliott's female friends refused to see her anymore because seeing her might tarnish their own reputations.


It was that big. Elliott and Lewis were together for more than 25 years right up until he passed away in 1878.


Yeah, I always love to remind people that when we think of the staid, informal and rule laden periods that have gone before us, there were always things like this going on. But it's never quite as codified as you may think. So we really should talk for a minute about why Mary Ann Evans chose to publish her work under the more masculine sounding pen name of George Eliot. She believed that when female novelists wrote anything other than lighthearted romance novels that they just weren't taken seriously.


And she is not the first. We have a few examples, certainly, of other female authors who wrote secretly as males in the early 19th century Augmentin Lucila. Well, do DeVone Nade Dupont wrote under the male pseudonym. Oh, and I love her George Sonde.


I'm so glad she goes by her pseudonym because I'm so glad you were the one real name.


She's a favorite of mine. Yeah. The Bronte sisters, also Charlotte Emilion am very commonly known, first published their works under the male pseudonyms of Curt Ellis and Acton Bell respectively.


Though Louisa May Alcott Little Women, which is often considered her best known work, was published under her own name. She also used the more ambiguous name Umm Bernard to write her Gothic thrillers.


They were considered, let's say, unladylike for a 19th century female writer or reader.


So she did not use Alcott. But a fascinating a side to her story is that her secret pseudonym actually wasn't discovered until the 1940s, if you can believe it. And it was a rare book dealer together with a librarian who figured that out. I think you've just written like a fabulous new thriller. It's the book, a dealer and librarian, and they solve literary crimes of history.


Greeks, I know what my next project is. I would watch that show.


As for why so many women writers took this particular path, we're going to use Charlotte Bronte as an illustrative example. So in late 1836, when Charlotte was just twenty years old, she said a selection of her poetry to poet laureate Robert Southy and something responded with the following very sexist, quote unquote. Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be. So, yeah, and I really have no response. In fact, Elliott herself wrote an anonymous essay that she called Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, where she criticized the works of her female contemporary authors, saying that they were all confusing with, quote, vagueness for depth, bombast for eloquence and affectation for originality.


She generally considered this genre to be full of those cliches and far fetched romantic endings that we all know from Hollywood stories.


But then there was also perhaps her biggest accusation about it.


She believed that they made educated women ultimately look foolish, yet not so much in the women uplifting women category on the women don't need to be educated.


They need to be at home not waiting for them. Alternate forms of literature is valid. Yes, it's a little snooty, you know, Yiddish, by which I mean it's completely snooty.


Today, of course, we still see modern female authors using male pseudonyms. This is not exclusive to the Victorian era at all. For example, there's a contemporary female author, Nora Roberts, who comes to mind. She's certainly not the only one, but she has written more than 200 romance as well as crime novels. But she uses the pseudonym J.D. Robb when she writes her suspense novels. Gender bias was alive in Victorian literary circles, certainly, but it has yet to be eliminated from today's publishing industry, literary circles and even among audiences.


So using pseudonyms to get these works published, whether it was Victorian era or even today, is interesting. And we could spend a ton of time talking about it.


But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about George Eliot's biggest. And I'm going to quote unquote this here, admirers. And they were Alexander Payne and Edith Simcox. And that's right, Eliot attracted to stalkers. So we're going to take a quick break. And then when we come back, we are going to talk about how Elliot met Alexander Mayne.


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Hi, guys. I'm Katie Lowes, actress, mom and host of the parenting podcast Katie's Crib, a show that helps women navigate the big shifts which motherhood can bring. This season. You'll hear from resilient mamas like actress Gabrielle Union, thought leaders like author of the New York Times best seller Untamed and Doyle, and experts like prenatal and postpartum clinical psychologist Dr. Alyssa Berlin. We get candid about our experiences and share resources for everything parenting, endometriosis and surrogacy, divorce and blended families emotionally preparing for postpartum.


Katie's crib is covering it all for a dose of comfort and community with those who understand the struggles and the joys of raising tiny humans. Subscribe now for brand new episodes. Every other Thursday, listen to Katie's Crib on My Heart radio app or an Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome back to Criminal. So this all started when a man named Alexander Mayne asked George Eliot a very simple question in the summer of 1871, and this was while she was working on her very famous novel, Middlemarch, George Eliot received a short letter from a young Scot named Alexander Maime.


So Alexander Payne, a little bit about him before we get into his letter.


He was about 30 years old when he started his correspondence with Eliot. He lived with his elderly, widowed mother in a really small town on the eastern coast of Scotland.


And what we know of him is that he gave lectures on various literary subjects to grad students and perhaps undergrad as well. But he didn't really share much of his occupation with her. We also know that he was really not very well-off financially, and he would wait for Elliot's novels to be published in discounted editions and then he would buy and read them.


It said that he preferred to walk along the cliffs and sit on the beach, and this is where he would read these books and he would read them aloud to himself.


So Alexander had a pretty simple and a fairly benign question in his initial correspondence with the author. What was the correct pronunciation of Romila? Elliot Stuber believes that someone would ask about the title of a novel that she had published years earlier. That was back in 1863, wrote back with the correct pronunciation, letting him know that you stress the first. Oh, and we actually have an excerpt from her correspondence. And you might imagine when you hear this, that later she regretted the final sentence here, which is, quote, My dear sir, I am grateful for indeed deeply affected by your assurance that my writings have been long precious to you and others.


I have not much strength and time for correspondence, but I shall always be glad to hear from you when you have anything in your mind which it will be a solace to you to say to me. And as some foreshadowing, so that opened the door, she not use an opened like a black hole anyway. She also went on to share some of her thoughts beyond her own work, specifically about Florentine literature, as well as Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish historical novelist and poet.


And instead of moving along or just sending a quick thank you, man replied almost instantly with another letter, this time it was much longer within its 11 pages. He told Elliot, quote, You are doing a work in and upon this age such that future generations shall rejoice that you have lived laying it on pretty thick. Alexander called the novel's prologue. We quote the sublime masterpiece of writing, thinking and historical word painting, all in one that the pen of a human being has ever yet achieved in prose.


This letter has since been referred to as Mayne's Rapsody of Ramallah.


But it's my rhapsodic. I think that's an apt name. I think there too. And I also was thinking, can you imagine if this man had email?


Oh, no. I mean, he's already writing that.


Pretty quickly, one quick interjection about that novel today.


She's probably best remembered for writing the now classic books, Middlemarch and Silas Marner.


Yet Romola these days is considered one of the least known among her works. But at the time she received a then record payment for her novel and it was fairly popular.


So these letters from Scotland, right. They just kept coming and they began coming at a rather extraordinary rate again and again. Alexander Mayme wrote Elliott long, heartfelt letters and then he would follow up with letters of a very different tone, demanding that she reassure him that he had not offended her with his previous letters. And after that, then his letters would turn into apologies and this cycle continued where he would kind of sense he had gone too far. Ask her to tell him that he had not gone too far and then apologised in case he had.


And the cycle starts, right? She tried to distance herself from her admirer, except that is when she did not, in fact, because strangers would often physically touch her when they encountered her, in particular, her cloak, and she allowed it and seemed OK with it. As these things played out, some of her contemporaries kind of thought Elliott was encouraging that sort of closeness from her fans. Alexander continued to write, of course, and in one of his next letters, he praised Elliott and specifically praised her poem, the Spanish Gypsy, telling her, I'm going to quote this.


I have felt myself face to face with the highest in humanity by reading that poem. So Elliott, radiant in this feedback, wrote back, which we all know she shouldn't have done, but she did.


It was not a simple thank you. She wrote to Maine to tell him that he thoroughly understood her intentions in that poem and that she believed he clearly had perfect insight into her writing, also encouraging him.


Oh, George. OK, so in Alexander's mind, this was his moment. He wrote her back with a proposal for Elliot. He wanted to do her writing justice by turning the wider public on to her work and wisdom and specifically highlighting her poetry. At that point, she was known pretty much as a novelist, but he was like, people need to be reading your poems, girl. And he wanted to do this by compiling them all in a single volume.


He would then edit it and he told her that she had done for the novel what Shakespeare did for the drama. So he was full of praise and then wanted to. Edit her poetry anthology and yeah, right, here's the thing, Elliott agreed to do it.


There are a few things here that may have been going on when she made that decision.


And it probably wasn't the like the chapter after chapter of letters that she was getting from Alexander. So first, there's no doubt that she saw that this had potential as a marketing tool for her novels, because it did. But then there's the harder piece to it, which is the more emotional piece. So George, her longtime partner that we mentioned earlier, once referred to Elliott as having, quote, a shy, shrinking, ambitious nature and added that she was susceptible to crippling self-doubt.


So think about what it must have been like for her to be trying to distance herself from Alexander Payne while at the same time he's a man whose words have brought her to tears and made her feel validated as a writer. So this is where John Blackwood enters the scene. John was Elliot's publisher. And when Alexander became the editor of the Elliott Collection, which was titled Wise, Witty and Tender Sayings in prose and verse selected from the works of George Elliott, John was also going to publish that work.


John wasn't really fond of Alexander, and he dismissed him as a sycophant. So privately he had a few nicknames for him, such as The Gusher and the Worshiper of Genius, The Gusher.


Oh yes, they're after their first encounter, John referred to Alexander as again another quote, a little fellow dark with bright, clear looking eyes. Who and this is the best part of the quote and maybe the best part of this episode for that.


Alexander used his knife in a dangerous manner at lunch.


We don't know the details about his father, but my imagination has taken it for me, right? Yes.


John also wrote once to his nephew, who was a fellow publisher, saying, My dear Willy, the worshiper of Genius appeared soon after 11:00 today and has just left. This has destroyed my day's work.


You everybody who hangs around your desk for too long. Yeah.


So so a distraction as well as being. Yes. A little too ebullient in his praise. So Blackwood's not a fan regardless of all of this, though. And John not enjoying working with him. Alexander did get his collection published. And of course, he dedicated the book to Elliott in, quote, recognition of a genius as original as it is profound and a morality as pure as it is impassioned. And in the preface, he declared that she had and again, we're quoting forever sanctified the novel by making it the vehicle of the grandest and most uncompromising moral truth, just like Shakespeare.


So, yeah.


So if we fast forward this recognition of genius to the eye of modern day criticism, there's a journalist named Rebecca Mead who writes for The New Yorker, and she is one of Eliot's biographers and she's a critic as well. And she summed this up in such a way. Alexander's book is the 19th century equivalent of the refrigerator magnet, which I.


I feel like I learned so much about just from that one sentence and the reason for this assessment that Mitt gives is that poetry was not really Eliot's strength. The wit and wisdom promised in the title never really delivers in the text.


Yes, she once gave a really great lecture where she talked about seeing a refrigerator magnet with a George Eliot quote on it about I don't remember the exact quote, but it's basically like about your life's work can start later on, like you can achieve that. We actually know exactly what you're talking about and and how she was reading this compilation complaining about that magnet that she was she was like, I knew it.


But here's the thing. That compendium was very popular in its time. It was published in multiple editions. It sold out. Unfortunately, though, Alexander's story kind of ends for us here. For all we know, we had a long, successful life or the opposite after his involvement with getting this book of poetry and wit published. But the details, outside of his admiration of Eliot, as far as it goes in his biography, have really not been well preserved.


Let's go ahead and take a quick sponsor break right now. And when we come back, we're going to talk about who Edith Simcox was in relation to Eliot.


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Welcome back to Criminal. So we've talked about Alexander Payne, but he was not George Eliot's only admirer, maybe Edith Simcox. Edith Simcox is perhaps best remembered as one of Eliot's most passionate admirers. But if you were living in the Victorian era in England, you would have been familiar with Edith's works, or at least her name because of her passion for her work. Edith had an amazing life, and that is outside of her nearly lifelong infatuation with George Eliot.


She promoted women's suffrage and was active in the trade union movement. She was a shirt maker with Hamilton and Co., which is a company that she established with a woman named Mary Hamilton. They ran their business as a women only co-op that provided women with employment under humane conditions, which was not a common thing in Victorian England. She was really just engaged in making her community better.


Yeah, she was an advocate for workers rights for women. Really admirable work. And she also worked as an author and a critic. She herself, as many of the authors we've talked about, often wrote under a male pseudonym. Herse was H. Florini, and she was a friend and an admirer of George Eliot calling her, we quote The Love Passion of My Life, which sounds like a very intense relationship, except there was no relationship between these two women other than a fairly superficial one.


So what we do know about Edith and George Eliot is all basically from Edith's personal journal. And she started that in 1876. And she wrote it until about a few months before her death, which was in 1900. Although many of her private entries are about things that are really mundane, like business issues, handling personal problems, dealing with customers. Not all the entries are like that, though. It's also where she detailed and she worked through emotional turmoil and frustration from her love for Elliot that was not returned.


And as early as the very first entry in her journal, she sensed she was on a mission to, and I quote that first entry, a mission to love rather than to be loved. And she called her journal The Autobiography of a Shirt Maker.


So Edith and Elliot did meet in 1872, and shortly after Edith had written a glowing review of Middlemarch.


And then Elliot invited her to one of her renowned parties. And Edith quickly became kind a part of Eliot's circle.


But while Elliott was open to developing a friendship, initially, it said that she began to grow uncomfortable with Edith's intense professions of devotion. Though she was quite successful before meeting Elliot. Edith referred to Elliot as her, quote, idol and attributed all of her late accomplishments to Elliott's influence, even though this was not a person that was actually in her life in any significant way. And she was highly successful without Elliot, you know, none of this needed to be there, but yet it was.


And three days after Elliot's death, which happened in December of 1880, Edith wrote in her journal, and this is a quote, I hope to build your monument in the lettering of words and deeds to come.


And in an effort to create a tribute to Elliot, the complete edition of her autobiography of a shirt maker was published with the title changed to a monument to the memory of George Eliot. And many hailed it as a monument to George Eliot.


After her death, one literary biographer named Wyndal Gordon dubbed Eliot as a, quote, wise angel.


And then, two years after Elliot's death, Edith published another tribute to her. This was titled Episodes in the Lives of Men, Women and Lovers. In the Work, which was made up of 11 sort of loosely connected tales, indirectly explores her love for Eliot, but only in fictional terms.


This ends where Edith and Eliot have a relationship or lack of relationship.


Edith passed away in September of 1991, and she hoped to be buried at Highgate Cemetery, which was where George Eliot was, and she hoped to be buried near her.


Instead, though, she was buried with her mother, with whom she had lived with for most of her life. So those are George Eliot's two stalkers, neither of whom seem particularly dangerous, yet just uncomfortable, right?


Yes. That means it's time for The Chaser.


It is. It is time for The Chaser. Why don't you take us to it? Of course. And thinking about George Eliot, what really struck me in both of these stories, but particularly in the Alexander main story, was this kind of duality in her reception to them that in some ways she felt uncomfortable.


But in other ways she clearly I mean, like any human, enjoyed praise and, you know, felt validated by attentions in some ways. And it did sound like from from Lewis that she she maybe liked a little bit more.


You know, she was a little insecure. It really played into her. Right. And then she would feel weird about it. So I came up with a cocktail that I call mixed feelings to reflect that duality. So it starts with butterfly flower t. I don't even know what that is like.


It's easy to get you can buy it online. A lot of specialty grocery stores have it. It's beautiful because it is blue liquid literally turns a bright blue when you think of it. Beautiful, it's absolutely beautiful. So you want to brew a little cup of tea, you want to let it cool off and actually pop it in the fridge, let it get chilled and you're going to use three ounces of that. Then you will add an ounce less if you don't like.


It is sweet, but I like a little sweetness of simple syrup or vanilla syrup. I like a vanilla syrup for this one, just one ounce of vodka. So it's not a heavy cocktail at all. And you're just going to combine this in a glass over ice. It's an absolutely gorgeous deep like sapphire blue color. I like to put it in a martini glass just because it's pretty.


Because I was going to say because it's pretty. It's pretty pretty. But here's the thing. I promised you duality. So just before serving it or drinking it, maybe like if you put it down in front of a friend, you're going to add a half of an ounce of lemon juice. And this drink completely changes before your eyes, and it goes from its beautiful blue color to a magenta purple.


It really is kind of the drink version of a stalker. A chaser.


Yes. And I see why you're saying that you were inspired by Alexander.


I, I did put some thought into it. I just want to know how to pronounce the title.


And then there you are.


Years later, it starts out fine. This this seems great. This person thinks I'm amazing. Wait, it's something different. Although I will say the purple the magenta purple color is also absolutely beautiful and lovable and it is a very immediate change. So you kind of feel like a magician.


I like to feel that way in the kitchen. Right. It's the acidity in the lemon juice just changes its color and it makes it. What does it do for the flavor or the flavor of of the tea on its own is a pretty earthy, soft flavor. It's not like a rose tea or like a lavender tea or any of those other kind of botanicals. It's not even like a hibiscus. It's not quite that sweet to my palate. I think it is used.


Is it in Thailand that it's often used? It served as an iced tea is like a greeting for visitors. It's super beautiful. I love it. I use it as an evening drink. I'll make a warm cup of it with milk and it's like the best way to just chill out before bed. Blue milk. There's no caffeine in it. So if you're a person affected by caffeine, it's not going to hit you that way. The flavor doesn't have a full body if you taste it without the lemon juice.


But once you have the lemon juice, it just adds that extra something and gives it another dimension and it becomes a cocktail worth consuming. Excellent.


I was wondering about the addition of lemon juice more than just the color, like if it added a little bit of pop.


Yeah, well, well, peperoni, I always have to ask about the citrus, you know, so that is the, the mixed feelings which I had a delightful time testing yesterday.




So did did you stop at one or two. No.


Well, no, only because I was doing the first one. My my proportions were off on the first one. I had to shift some things around a little bit too much. Vodka really distorts the taste of it.


I was just about to say, please tell me that the portions were too much vodka. Well, it's I had initially both too much vodka and too much lemon juice. And it just it kind of tasted like a tart mistake, like it wasn't like a yummy oh, vodka and lemon juice sometimes can be yummy, you know. Yeah. This was like the combination just was like how we know you're doing it wrong.


So we but the tightened second draft, we dialed those back and now and it's you know, like I said, it's only a few ounces, so it's not a big drink anyway. So if you wanted to double it, make yourself an iced version of it, that would also work just fine. Criminality is a production of QandA Land Audio in partnership with I Heart Radio for more podcasts from chandeliered audio. Please visit the I heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.