Executive Producer: David Thompson
Producer: Brian Eastman
Director: Graham Theakston
MILL ON THE FLOSS/Intro by Russell Baker
First you should know that the Floss is the name of a fictional river.
The river plays a key role in what we're about to see. It powers the mill that has been owned by the Tulliver family for generations.
The Tulliver family is the center of the story, and at its very center is Maggie Tulliver -- sensitive, imaginative and terribly smart. "The Mill on the Floss" is the story of Maggie and the four men she loves... each in a different way.
Its author was Mary Ann Evans. We know her by her pen name, George Eliot.
She was a country girl whose father managed rural estates for the well-to-do. Country life was not for Mary Ann, however. She was brilliant and unorthodox.
She moved to London. She scandalized her family. She wrote some of the best novels in the English language.
Now the river Floss: It's already making trouble for the Tullivers as the story begins. Rivers provoke dangerous quarrels over water rights, and that's what Mr. Tulliver is involved in when we first meet him.
Young Maggie is waiting in terror for the arrival of her brother Tom who's been away at school... She's promised to take care of his pet rabbit while he was gone, and the rabbit is dead. Tom won't like that. Tom likes things done right, and when they're not -- he can be absolutely unforgiving.
"The Mill on the Floss."
MILL ON THE FLOSS/Extro by Russell Baker
Mary Ann Evans -- George Eliot, as we know her -- had an older brother named Isaac.
Like Tom and Maggie, they were close playmates in childhood, but different as day and night.
Isaac was stern, unimaginative and impatient with his sister's impulsive nature.
The two were raised in a Fundamentalist Christian household. Isaac conformed to the family culture. His sister did not.
She broke away, went to London and settled in the Bohemian literary world.
In her early thirties, she began living openly with a married man, the editor and critic, George Lewes.
Isaac was appalled.
Lewes's marriage had been a scandal even in freethinking London. For some time, his wife had been having an affair more or less openly with one of his colleagues.
Lewes and his wife had had three children, and because they had three children, divorce was impossible
You can imagine how the upright Isaac took the news of his sister's becoming Mrs. Lewes without benefit of the clergy.
She told him about it in a letter, and he answered so coldly that she never expected to hear from him again.
Unlike Maggie Tulliver, George Eliot found lifelong happiness with the man she'd taken from another woman.
She and Lewes lived as a devoted, married couple until his death twenty-five years later.
That did not impress Isaac. For twenty-five years he refused to see her or to write.
Even when Lewes died, Isaac remained silent.
At the age of sixty, George Eliot married a man twenty years younger than she was.
She had her lawyer pass the news to Isaac's lawyer.
Isaac replied at last. "My dear sister," his note began.
It gave him much pleasure, he said, to break the long silence between them by congratulating her on her marriage.
She died six months later. Isaac came to her funeral.
For Masterpiece Theatre, I'm Russell Baker. Goodnight.
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