It was on this date, November 22, 1819, that English Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, who rose to fame under the pen-name “George Eliot,” was born in Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire. She developed a strong religious sense under the teachers at Mrs. Wallington’s School at Nuneaton, and early on published some religious poetry. Her hunger for reading and learning led her to master Greek, Latin, Italian, and German after leaving school. Evans attended church, out of respect for her family, only until her father died in 1849, but concluded of Christianity, “It is time the clergy are told that thinking men, after a close examination of that doctrine, pronounce it to be subversive of true moral development and, therefore, positively noxious.”
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Originally published October 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.
This deathbed conversion, by so critical a thinker as Leonardo, who would have nothing to lose by professing piety all his life, can only mean that during his prime years he was a secret freethinker.