Henry James wrote his father and told with riveting vividness, the impression that Mary Ann Evans – the writer George Eliot – had made on him.

Writer - George Eliot

Mary Anne Evans – pen name George Eliot (1819 – 1860)

“To begin with she is magnificently ugly – deliciously hideous. She has a low forehead, a dull eye, a pendulous nose, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth…. Now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end as I ended, in falling in love with her. Yes, behold me literally in love with this great horse-faced blue stocking. I don’t know in what the charm lies, but it is thoroughly potent. An admirable physiognomy – a delightful expression, a voice soft and rich as that of a counselling angel – a mingled sagacity and  sweetness – a broad hint of a great underlying world of reserve, knowledge, pride and power – a great feminine dignity and character in those massively plain features… Altogether she has a larger circumference than any woman I have ever seen.”

Above drawn from George Eliot: A Biography by Gordon S. Haight