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.
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. Modern editions vary in terms of which version of the text they use.
338 Pages Text [in pencil] 2
Silas Marner :
The Weaver of Raveloe.