George Eliot wrote the following entry in her journal on Dec. 31, 1857, when she was 38. By then she was living openly with the writer George Henry Lewes, who was married, and had begun to call him “my husband.” In 1857 she had also started to publish fiction anonymously but to wide acclaim in Blackwood’s magazine.
“The last night of 1857 … My life has deepened unspeakably during the last year: I feel a greater capacity for moral and intellectual enjoyment, a more acute sense of my deficiencies in the past, a more solemn desire to be faithful to coming duties, than I remember at any former period of my life. And my happiness has deepened too: the blessedness of a perfect love and union grows daily. I have some severe suffering this year from anxiety about my sister [who had tuberculosis] and what will probably be a final separation from here – there has been no other real trouble. Few women, I fear have had such reason to think the long sad years of youth were worth living for the sake of middle age … so goodbye, dear 1857! May I be able to look back on 1858 with an equal consciousness of advancement in work and heart.”
From Gordon Haight’s George Eliot: A Biography