George Eliot is easy to place historically. She was born in the same year as Queen Victoria and lived through the middle sixty years of the nineteenth century. During her lifetime the railway networks were established, the penny post that became uniform in 1840 revolutionised communications, and, in her final years, the first telephone exchange began to operate in London. The Industrial Revolution bore fruit in thriving coal and steel industries and Britain became famous not only as the centre of a great empire but also as the workshop of the world.
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