George Elliot, a.k.a. Mary Ann Evans, used a Male Pen name to be sure her works “would be taken seriously”.
She had to resort to this guise, as did other Female writers of her era, as no matter her skill in story-telling, she was not going to be published under her own rather boring and definitely female birth name.
There was the other possibility that using a male pen name would shield her from the notoriety of the fact that she had a 20-year affair with a Married man – although his was an “open relationship” in which his wife produced four children not belonging to him. Later, continuing her abstract life, she married a man twenty years her junior.
I was assigned her books in school but they were not the non-fiction I preferred so I passed her by for years, although I did visit her grave in London’s Highgate Cemetery where she is laid to rest near Marx, probably not by design.
What finally attracted me to her biography was her statement:
“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”
– George Eliot
– George Eliot
She lived in that manner and sometimes Suffered for it.
But her phrase echoed again when I stood at the counter of an estate jewelry shop on Sutter Street in San Francisco and mentioned that I had always loved jewelry. The young attendant told me of her own study at the American Gemological Association and winked when she said: “It is never too late to do what you love.”
And so it is. Age may hamper us more when young than when we are experienced. When we have been up, down and sometimes sideways we know that we have survived and can, with will, begin again. And not necessarily the same task.
As I look through the photographs of my 75+ years I see travels, friends either lost to time or death, and hairdos I tried with varying degrees of success.
I am at a stage when I am disposing of my belongings as they really no longer “belong” to me. Not the person I am now – they were transitory articles in my path to this time when I have retired, in the real sense, from those experiences.
I live in Thailand. I have no plans to return to live in the United States but do expect to spend half of each of my remaining years in other locations.
This year it will be Spain. I am volunteering for a language program in Madrid and possibly will go to Greece before returning to my very reasonably priced studio in a condo in Chiang Mai.
While gone, I will be looking for opportunities to have inexpensive lodging without having to sleep in bunk beds as I did when backpacking around the world in the 1970s. I am past that now, although it is not impossible that I might house myself that way on a rainy night somewhere.
Isabella Bird, who suffered a life of ill health, still managed to travel the world and famously had her bags packed for a trip to China when she died at age 73. May I follow her example to the end.