About the author: Brenda McKay received a BA in English, Art History, and Classical Culture, followed by an Honours degree in Ancient History, at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She received her MA in Victorian and Studies and PhD in Victorian Literature from Birkbeck College, University of London. She has taught at Birkbeck College and the University of Hertfordshire.2003 0-7734-6621-5
This interdisciplinary approach to Eliot’s writings places her within the wider context of debates on racial and cultural differences, furnishing an altered context for scholars to return to her fiction and poetry. It brings together a discussion of her fiction with an account of the activities of Victorian members of groups such as the Anthropological Society, scrutinizing Eliot’s dislike of colonialism and her responses to the Indian Mutiny and the Jamaica rebellion. It also examines Victorian attitudes to Gypsies, Black slaves, Indians, Jews and Turks. The novels are discussed within the context of contemporary theories about race, with reference to Robert Knox, Darwin, Huxley, and the work of social philosophers Comte and Herbert Spencer. It also discusses a range of other writers in relation to Eliot, including J. G. Herder, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the ethnologists J. C. Prichard and Gobineau, and Jewish writers Halevi, Maimonides, and Luria.