WOODBRIDGE, Conn. — Gordon S. Haight, who devoted most of his professional life to the 19th-Century British author George Eliot and who also was an English scholar at the forefront of the campaign to have her memorialized at Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner, died Saturday at his home here.
The professor emeritus of English at Yale University was 84 and had spent more than 60 years researching and writing about the controversial Eliot, who was born Mary Ann Evans but wrote under a male pseudonym in the Victorian era.
Author of a monumental biography, "George Eliot," published in 1968, and collector and editor of nine volumes of Eliot's letters, Haight was active until shortly before his death, publishing two books this year alone on the woman chastised by her peers for bearing children by a married man unable to divorce his wife.
It was because of her spotted personal life that Eliot, author of "Silas Marner," "Middlemarch" and "Adam Bede," was denied admission to the Abbey by the moralists of her time. When she was accepted in 1980--the 100th anniversary of her death--Haight was asked to dedicate her memorial stone.