Publisher: J. Watterson, Photo, A Barker & Sons, Printers, Wirkworth
The novelist, George Eliot (1819-1890) used the town of Wirksworth as her inspiration for her book “Adam Bede”. Indeed there are number of associations with the town throughout her literary career, for instance the Haarlem Mill opposite has been suggested as the location for her novel “The Mill on the Floss”. The actual inspiration of “Adam Bede’s cottage” remains disputed with some scholars claiming the novels location is in fact the village of Ellastone on the Staffordshire/Derbyshire border where Eliot’s father lived.
This cottage is where Samuel Evans and his wife Elizabeth came to live around 1814. George Eliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, and was their niece, came to stay with her aunt and uncle in 1826. Wirksworth made such an impression on Eliot that she wrote her novel renaming the town “Snowfield”. The origin of the plot came from Eliot’s aunt, who had visited a young girl in Nottingham Prison. This girl, Hetty Sorrel had been condemned to death for the murder of her child. Aunt Elizabeth stayed with Hetty the night before the execution and they prayed together.