Nancy Henry is a professor of English. Her latest book, The Life of George Eliot: A Critical Biography, was published by Wiley-Blackwell in May 2012. The book differs from previous biographies of the Victorian novelist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) in its self-consciousness about biographical narrative and its questioning of accepted but unsubstantiated stories about Eliot’s life that have been circulated since the first biography of the author appeared in 1883. Furthermore, Henry draws on the vast amount of scholarship conducted on Eliot’s life and work in recent years to produce original interpretations of Eliot’s novels, poetry and essays in the context of her life and times.
The book seeks to revitalize the genre of the critical biography at a time when biographical and literary studies tend to be separate enterprises with separate audiences. The book was noticed by Rebecca Mead in her blog on the website of the New Yorker. Mead praised Henry’s “legal sleuthing” and her “sensitive analysis of the novels” (6 August 2012). Reviewing the biography favorably in the British newspaper, the Guardian, Kathryn Hughes noted that Henry succeeds in asking the “questions that everyone else assumed had been answered years ago” (2 June 2012). Henry, whose research interests include the intersection of literature and finance, has begun work on her next book project, “Women and the Nineteenth-Century Cultures of Investment.”