Born on 22 November 1819, George Eliot produced several works during her lifetime, the most famous being Middlemarch, which is considered to be one of the greatest novels to be written in the English language. Eliot, whose real name was Mary Ann Evans, visited Jersey in the summer of 1857 and stayed for three months with her partner George Lewes. The couple arrived by boat on Friday 15th May and found lodgings with the Amy family at Rosa Cottage in Gorey, on the east coast of the Island. It seems Eliot developed a great fondness for the Island during her stay and wrote of Jersey as “a sweet spot in our memories, while our memories last.”
The six stamps in the set have been painted by Jersey artist, Peter Fancourt and show the Island as it might have been seen through the eyes of George Eliot in the summer of 1857. The stamps feature Jersey scenes that have been reinterpreted and painted using descriptions taken from the writer’s journals and letters. A quote from Eliot has been incorporated into each of the designs.
Fancourt says of the project: “For me, the most difficult part of the commission was not the actual execution of the paintings but the research. Site visits were often frustrating as the scene I wanted was built over or trees and vegetation were now dominant. Thankfully the beautiful coastline, flora and fauna that George Eliot loved were largely unchanged. Although I have been a semi-professional artist for many years, this commission was quite a departure from my usual landscape images. Living in Jersey there is a wealth of imagery to inspire oneself but the requirements of this task stretched my research skills and imagination as to what Jersey may have looked like in the 19th century.”
Born in Essex, artist Peter Fancourt now lives in Jersey where he has exhibited his paintings for over ten years. A member of the Jersey Arts Trust, many of his paintings are inspired by Jersey. Over the years, Fancourt has experimented with various styles and mediums, from pen and ink colour washes, to watercolour and wire collage. His acrylic paintings often feature extremes of sunlight and reflections.