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It is well known that George Eliot's intelligence and her wide knowledge of literature, history, philosophy and religion shaped her fiction, but until now no study has followed the development of her thinking through her whole career. This intellectual biography traces the course of that development from her initial Christian culture, through her loss of faith and working out of a humanistic and cautiously progressive world view, to the thought-provoking achievements of her novels. It focuses on her responses to her reading in her essays, reviews and letters as well as in the historical pictures of Romola, the political implications of Felix Holt, the comprehensive view of English society in Middlemarch, and the visionary account of personal inspiration in Daniel Deronda. This portrait of a major Victorian intellectual is an important addition to our understanding of Eliot's mind and works, as well as of her place in nineteenth-century British culture.