George Eliot's piano returns to Coventry

Roger Vaughan of The Herbert with George Eliot’s piano
by Ben Glass
January 2, 2009


CURATORS at a Coventry museum are hoping to hit the right note with a new display featuring George Eliot’s piano.

The instrument, along with the novelist’s writing desk and other belongings, was donated to Coventry City Council in 1937.

But since 1975 the items have been on loan to Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery.

Now – following completion of a £20million refurbishment of the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum – the items have been returned.

Roger Vaughan, city arts and heritage officer at The Herbert, said: “As part of the redevelopment of the Herbert we wanted to give more prominence to the George Eliot collection, especially as she had such strong links with Coventry and Nuneaton.

“The piano is part of a collection of George Eliot memorabilia including her writing desk, prints and drawings, some of which are now displayed in our new History Gallery.”

The piano is now on display as part of the permanent Connected exhibition.

George Eliot was born in 1819 in Arbury, Nuneaton before moving to Coventry when she was 21.

Aware that women writers in the 19th Century were usually seen as writers of romance, Eliot went under a male pen name in an effort to conceal her real identity and to be taken seriously.
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