This is the cover of Book I of Middlemarch, entitled ‘Miss Brooke’. George Eliot’s novel was published in eight instalments (‘books’) between December 1871 and December 1872. It was then published in four volumes, each volume containing two books.
Most novels of the time were published in three volumes, either at first publication or following serialisation. While Eliot was writing Middlemarch it became apparent that the novel would be too long for the standard three-volume form. Eliot’s partner, George Henry Lewes, suggested the eight-part, four-volume plan as one that would be both artistically and commercially beneficial.