Item #15177 Receipt signed ("Mary Ann Cross") for funds received from her father's estate. George Eliot.
Receipt signed ("Mary Ann Cross") for funds received from her father's estate.
Receipt signed ("Mary Ann Cross") for funds received from her father's estate.

Receipt signed ("Mary Ann Cross") for funds received from her father's estate.

Received from her brother Isaac (surviving Trustee). Single half-leaf, scant 5" x 8". N.p., June 1880.

The signature on this receipt -- Mary Ann Cross -- tells us that this was from the incredible final half-year of George Eliot's life. The text of the receipt is written in black ink in a lawyer's (or her brother's) hand:

June 1880 Received of Mr Isaac Pearson Evans the surviving Trustee under my late Father's will Forty four pounds and fourpence being half a year's Dividend on money in the funds due to me in April last and 6.11.6 Bank Interest on a sum lately invested. 44.0.4 Mary Ann Cross [signed in purple ink, over a one-penny Inland Revenue stamp].

The receipt is in fine condition except for folds (due to initial mailing and filing); the verso includes filing information in the same legal hand.

Mary Anne [sic] Evans, born in 1819, met the love of her life in 1851 -- the agnostic philosopher George Lewes -- and they began living together in 1854, four years before her first published fiction. They did not marry, because George was already married with three children -- but in a marriage that was "open" to say the least (over the subsequent 24 years that George and Marian [sic] lived together, his wife Agnes had four additional children with the man she was living with). Marian and George were together until his death in November 1878 (two years after her final novel) -- at which time she legally changed her name to Mary Ann Evans Lewes.

During the eighteen months after George's death, Mary Ann increasingly found solace and companionship with her financial advisor John Walter Cross, twenty years her junior, whose mother had just died. On 6 May 1880, she and Cross married (both for the first time), and she changed her name to Mary Ann Cross; immediately after, the newlywed couple headed off on a ten-week tour of the Continent. Soon after the wedding, her brother Isaac wrote her a congratulatory letter -- his first personal contact with her in 26 years, ever since (he felt) she had shamed the family by moving in with George. She replied to Isaac on 26 May, from Milan.

By mid-June, Mary Ann and John were in Venice -- and John was becoming more and more unstable (biographers have speculated that Cross was gay, and that this marriage was never consummated). On 16 June, in a moment of "mental derangement," John threw himself off their hotel balcony into the Grand Canal, an apparent suicide attempt -- though some gondoliers quickly retrieved him, and he survived. The couple altered their itinerary to go straight to some spa resorts in Germany and Austria, then meandered back to arrive in England on July 24th.

Since this receipt is dated simply "June 1880", this transaction must have occurred by mail -- which would explain the receipt's numerous folds.

Back in England, the couple returned to the author's home, but began the process of buying a house in Chelsea. But just weeks after moving in, Mary Ann developed a throat infection, adding to ongoing kidney problems -- and she died (at age 61) on 22 December 1880. (Ineligible for Westminster Abbey due to her lifestyle and agnosticism, she was buried next to George Lewes in the "Dissenters" section of Highgate Cemetery.) John lived on until 1924, unkindly known as "George Eliot's widow"; in 1885 appeared his GEORGE ELIOT'S LIFE, which was famously reviewed by Prime Minister Gladstone as "It is not a Life at all; it is a Reticence in three volumes."

Yes, this is merely a signed receipt, but it was to a brother who had only recently accepted her back into the family, and right at the outset of her very brief and improbable marriage; George Eliot's "Mary Ann Cross" signature is understandably quite uncommon. Item #15177

Price: $2,950.00

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