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George Eliot's Piano Returns to Herbert Art Gallery and Museum
Roger Vaughan of The Herbert stood next to George Eliot’s piano.

COVENTRY.- The piano of one of the country’s best known female novelists has returned to The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, in Jordan Well.

Mary Ann Evans, better known by her pen name George Eliot, was a leading novelist in the Victorian era, and a collection of her belongings including her piano and writing desk was donated to the City Council in 1937.

Museum bosses hope the musical piece will strike the right chord with visitors following its return to the city after an absence of more than 30 years.

The novelist’s piano was loaned to Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery in 1975 but following the £20 million refurbishment and extension of The Herbert, the staff of both museums agreed that it should return to Coventry.

The piano is now on display as part of the Connected exhibition at The Herbert in Jordan Well in Coventry city centre.

George Eliot was born in 1819 in Arbury, Nuneaton before moving to Coventry when she was 21.

Aware that women writers in the 19th Century were usually seen as writers of romance, Eliot went under a male pen name in an effort to conceal her real identity and to be taken seriously.

She produced a total of seven novels including her first effort, Adam Bede, which proved to be hugely successful when it was published in 1859.

Roger Vaughan, City Arts and Heritage Officer at The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum, said: “As part of the redevelopment of the Herbert we wanted to give more prominence to the George Eliot collection, especially as she had such strong links with Coventry and Nuneaton.

“The piano is part of a collection of George Eliot memorabilia including her writing desk, prints and drawings, some of which are now displayed in our new History Gallery.”

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