Carpenter Adam Bede is in love with the beautiful Hetty Sorrel, but unknown to him, he has a rival, in the local squire's son Arthur Donnithorne. Hetty is soon attracted by Arthur's seductive charm and they begin to meet in secret. The relationship is to have tragic consequences that reach far beyond the couple themselves, touching not just Adam Bede, but many others, not least, pious Methodist Preacher Dinah Morris. A tale of seduction, betrayal, love and deception, the plot of Adam Bede has the quality of an English folk song. Within the setting of Hayslope, a small, rural community, Eliot brilliantly creates a sense of earthy reality, making the landscape itself as vital a presence in the novel as that of her characters themselves.
Mary Ann (Marian) Evans was born in 1819 in Warwickshire. Under the name of George Eliot, she wrote Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, as well as numerous essays, articles and reviews. She died in 1880, only a few months after marrying J. W. Cross, an old friend and admirer, who became her first biographer. Margaret Reynolds works on literature from the C18th to the present day, especially poetry, and especially in the Victorian period. Her The Sappho History (2003) traced the transmission of the works and images of the ancient Greek poet as they appear in the works of Mary Robinson, S.T. Coleridge, Alfred Tennyson, Baudelaire, Swinburne, H.D. and Virginia Woolf. Margaret Reynolds is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's 'Adventures in Poetry', now in its 11th series. She has a weekly column on classic books in the Saturday Times .