Sculpture of George Eliot’s hand

19th century

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A white marble sculpture of what is believed to be the left hand of George Eliot. It is resting on a cushion and entwined by a trailing and flowering plant. The sculpture is incised with the words ‘George Eliot’.

It is thought to have been created from a cast of her limb made after her death. This sculpture forms part of the Victorian tradition of remembering the dead through artworks, jewellery and painting. Mortality rates were high at this time and death was considered much more a part of everyday life. This sculpture of George Eliot’s hand would have been a fitting choice of memorial to remember her craft as a writer. Below is a short film about this unusual object.