Immediately after their marriage, Lewes and his wife went to Germany, and they spent a quiet year of study in Berlin, Munich and Weimar. Here he re-wrote and completed his Life of Goethe. On their return to England they took a house in Blandford Square, and began then to make that home which was soon destined to have so much interest and attraction. A good part of the year 1858 was also spent on the continent in study and travel. Three months were passed in Munich, six weeks in Dresden, while Salzburg, Vienna and Prague were also visited. The continent was again visited in the summer of 1865, and a trip was taken through Normandy, Brittany and Touraine. Other visits preceded and followed, including a study of Florence in preparation for the writing of Romola, and a tour in Spain in 1867 to secure local coloring for The Spanish Gypsy. In 1865, the house in Blandford Square was abandoned for “The Priory,” a commodious and pleasant house on the North Bank, St. John’s Wood. It was here Mr. and Mrs. Lewes lived until his death.
CAREER AS AN AUTHOR.
Until she was thirty-six years old Mrs. Lewes had given no hint that she was likely to become a great novelist. She had shown evidence of large learning and critical ability, but not of decided capacity for imaginative or poetic creation. The critic and the creator are seldom combined in one person; and while she might have been expected to become a philosophical writer of large reputation, there was little promise that she would become a great novelist. Before she began the Scenes of Clerical Life, she had written but very little of an original character. She was not drawn irresistibly to the career for which she was best fitted, and others had to discover her gift and urge her to its use. Mr. Lewes saw that the person who could write so admirably of what a novel ought to be, and who could so skilfully point out the defects in the lady novelists of the day, was herself capable of writing much better ones than those she criticised. It was at his suggestion, and through his encouragement, she made her first attempt at novel-writing. Her love of learning, her relish for literary and philosophical studies, led her to believe that she could accomplish the largest results in the line of the work she had already begun. Yet Lewes had learned from her conversational powers, from her keen appreciation of the dramatic elements of daily life, and from her fine humor and sarcasm, that other work was within the range of her powers. Reluctantly she consented to turn aside from the results of scholarship she had hoped to accomplish, and with many doubts concerning her ability to become a writer of fiction. The history of the publication of her first work, Scenes of Clerical Life, has been fully told, and is helpful towards an understanding of her career as an author.