To the longer of these poetical studies succeeded another novel of English Life. Middlemarch: a Study of Provincial Life was printed in twelve monthly parts by Blackwood, beginning in December, 1871. Five years later, Daniel Deronda was printed in eight monthly parts by the same publisher, beginning with February, 1876. This method of publication was probably adopted for the same reason assigned by Lewes for the serial appearance of Romola. Both novels attracted much attention, and were eagerly devoured and discussed as the successive numbers appeared, the first because of its remarkable character as a study of English life, the other because of its peculiar ideas, and its defence of the Jewish race. Her last book, Impressions of Theophrastus Such, a series of essays on moral and literary subjects, written the year before, was published by Blackwood in June, 1879. Its reception by the public was somewhat unfavorable, and it added nothing of immediate enlargement to her reputation.
Of miscellaneous writing George Eliot did but very little. While Mr. Lewes was the editor of The Leader newspaper, from 1849 to 1854, she was an occasional contributor of anonymous articles to its columns. When he founded The Fortnightly Review she contributed to its first number, published in May, 1865, an article on “The Influence of Rationalism,” in which she reviewed Lecky’s Rationalism in Europe. These occasional efforts of her pen, together with the two short stories and the poems already mentioned, constituted all her work outside her series of great novels. She concentrated her efforts as few authors have done; and having found, albeit slowly and reluctantly, what she could best accomplish, she seldom strayed aside. When her pen had found its proper place it was not often idle; and though she did not write rapidly, yet she continued steadily at her work and accomplished much. Within twenty years she wrote eight great works of fiction, including The Spanish Gypsy; works that are destined to an immortality of fame. From almost entire obscurity her name appeared, with the publication of the Scenes of Clerical Life, to attract attention among a few most appreciative readers, and it was destined then to rise suddenly to the highest place of literary reputation with the publication of Adam Bede. Her genius blazed clearly out upon the world in the fulness of its powers, and each new work added to her fame, and revealed some new capacity in the delineation of character. Her literary career shows throughout the steady triumph of genius and of persistent labor.