Manuscript of The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot


Shown here are selected pages from the manuscript of The Mill on the Floss (1860), George Eliot’s second full-length novel. Eliot started writing the novel in January 1859, and worked on it until March 1860. The first edition was published in three volumes the following month. 

These pages contain the opening of the manuscript and its conclusion, as well as an early scene in which the novel’s heroine, Maggie Tulliver, talks about literature with a visitor called Mr Riley. The phrase on the final page of the manuscript (‘for two bodies that were found in close embrace’) is to be inserted into f. 328r, as Eliot’s comment on that page (‘see back’), indicates. 

The manuscript is slightly different from the first published version, especially in regard to punctuation. In her 1979 edition of the novel, A S Byatt suggests that Eliot’s publisher, John Blackwood, changed Eliot’s original punctuation so that it would fit with Blackwood’s house style[1]. Further changes were made between the first, second and third editions, with Eliot removing a number of dialect words and specialised scientific terms. Some of these have been reinstated in later editions.

[1] George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, ed. by A S Byatt (London: Penguin, 2003), pp. xlvi-xlviii



             The Mill on the Floss

                     “In their death they were not divided”

Full title:
The Mill on the Floss. 3 vols.
George Eliot
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Public Domain
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British Library
Add MS 34023-34025

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