Manuscript of Silas Marner by George Eliot


Shown here are selected pages from the manuscript of Silas Marner by George Eliot. Eliot started work on the novel in September 1860, completing this manuscript in March 1861. It was published the following month, in one volume.

The title page includes the novel’s subtitle, ‘The Weaver of Raveloe’. On the following page is an epigraph which Eliot specifies should appear on the title page of the printed edition. The epigraph is from William Wordsworth’s poem ‘Michael’ and reads:

A child, more than all other gifts
That earth can offer to declining man,
Brings hope with it, and forward-looking thought.

The poem’s relevance to Silas Marner is clear: the novel tells the story of the lonely miser Silas Marner, who is redeemed by his adoption of a golden-haired child on the same day that he loses his carefully-hoarded gold.

These pages contain the opening of the manuscript and an account of Silas Marner’s history before his arrival in the village of Raveloe. You can see a number of corrections Eliot has made to her own work, replacing various words and phrases with ones almost synonymous.

The publication of Silas Marner

This manuscript is not identical to the published version. Its punctuation and spelling were altered in order to conform to the publisher’s house style, and Eliot made a number of corrections to the proofs. Nevertheless, the first edition contained several printer’s errors. Eliot made more corrections for the publication of the second edition, and carried out a final revision for an edition published in 1878.[1] Modern editions vary in terms of which version of the text they use.


[1] George Eliot, Silas Marner, ed. by David Carroll (London: Penguin, 2003), pp. xxxi–xxxii


338 Pages Text [in pencil]                                                                 2

                                                Silas Marner :
                                        The Weaver of Raveloe.

                                                   A Story
                                               George Eliot

Full title:
Silas Marner: the Weaver of Raveloe
George Eliot
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add MS 34026

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The regnerative power of nature in Silas Marner

Article by:
Jo Carruthers
The novel 1832–1880

An introduction to Silas Marner: fairytale, realism and labour

Article by:
John Mullan
The novel 1832–1880

Professor John Mullan explores how George Eliot draws on fairytale elements in her self-described ‘realistic treatment’ of a pre-industrial weaver and her work.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

Silas Marner

Created by: George Eliot

George Eliot’s (1819-1880) short novel of 1861, in which the protagonist is obliged to leave his small ...