The works of leading Victorian writer George Eliot were brought into sharp focus last week when Silas Marner was staged in Allesley. Allesley Silas, a musical version of the story about a weaver who arrived in the imaginary village of Raveloe. It could well be Allesley and was adapted as such by Coventry dramatist Alan Pollock. It ran to capacity audiences over five days.
Alongside the classic tale George Eliot Fellowship members set up a display in Allesley Park Walled Garden Pavilion where a whole host of people from all walks of life called in to learn more about the writer and her close association with Coventry.
Chairman of the Fellowship, John Burton, said: “What interest has been shown in the life of George Eliot, and her real name Mary Ann Evans! Many were intrigued, especially children, how she adopted a man’s name when women were supposed to stay at home and carry out domestic tasks.
“Many recognised the estate agents on Greyfriars Green and were so surprised to know it was Miss Franklin’s School all those years ago and where George attended lessons. Some were quite surprised to know that the family home was in Foleshill. It was here that George came to meet people who held and debated radical views influencing the works she would later write. Significantly, Middlemarch was based on life in 19th century Coventry and was declared one of the greatest novels in English fiction.
“The musical play and the opportunity to meet Coventry people here in the walled garden will have encouraged many more to take an interest in George Eliot.
“The New Pavilion, only recently opened, has become a central meeting point in Allesley Park’s 19th century walled garden”, said the garden’s Chairman (and former CovSoc Chair) Keith Draper. “Already we have staged an art exhibition of work by a local artist, and visitors can look forward to more community events in the future.”