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If George Eliot could vote

Eliot was a romantic conservative who would have preferred the dowdiness of the Majors to the smoothness of the Blairs. But Kathryn Hughes, her biographer, thinks Tony Booth would have swung her vote to New Labour

By Kathryn Hughes   May 1997

George Eliot was not eligible to vote in 1880, the last general election held before her death. What’s more, she didn’t care, much to the disappointment of her feminist friends who were always pestering her for a statement in favour of female suffrage. Apart from a brief intoxication with political radicalism in 1848, which never got much further than some daringly slangy remarks about the Queen, Eliot was a romantic conservative who believed that the only change worth having was social, organic and snail slow. Writing around the time of the second reform bill of 1867, she displaced her fears…

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