Squeaky Pedal, a leading creator of films, podcasts and content across museums, heritage and cultural attractions, has completed work on a new exhibition, revealing more about the life of a famous writer.
While the name George Eliot sounds like a male author, it was actually a pseudonym used by Nuneaton-born Mary Anne Evans. Pen names were commonly used by Victorian female authors as a sign of the times in order to get books published. However, Eliot had a different motivation.
She used the alternate name to separate her personal life from her work life, whilst also allowing her to move away from the stereotypical romance novels traditionally written by women, to contribute to different genres of literature.
From writing to filming
To reveal more behind the fascinating story, Squeaky Pedal was commissioned by the Exploring Eliot project to produce a series of films earlier this year.
With Eliot based in the English Midlands, the local Nuneaton Library, Nuneaton Museum and The Herbert Art Gallery and Museum in Coventry were found to hold some remarkable objects which would assist with the project.
The new Exploring Eliot collection features a comprehensive selection of items that belonged to the Warwickshire-based author, including first editions of books, her clothing, correspondence and even her trusty piano. Squeaky Pedal was given unique access to parts of the collection for filming, featuring high-profile artefacts including sketches of Eliot, her blotting-pad, and footwear.
Curators at the three museum sites provided vital information for each item held within their collections, leading to the creation of nine new films which will help preserve Eliot’s legacy.
During the project, a number of discoveries were made including a written article from after Eliot’s close friend Edith Simcox, written after the author’s death. The letter detailed Edith’s grief at her friend’s death, and how this had inspired her to travel to Eliot’s local area. The deeply personal letter provides an authentic insight into how Eliot was perceived in her lifetime.
Squeaky Pedal produced a short film focused on Eliot’s soft leather shoes. Their delicate nature suggests they were made for a domestic setting. One museum curator comments that a self-conscious Eliot “wanted to keep up with the fashion at the time”, with the quality showing she was “affluent and successful in her own lifetime”.
A spokesperson for Squeaky Pedal says “Ultimately, our time at the Eliot collection showed us that although successful in her work, Eliot still carried doubt, which is something we can all relate to today. It was a privilege to be able to showcase the collection so that we could tell the story of George Eliot in such an interactive and imaginative way.”
Natalie Heidaripour, project officer for Exploring Eliot says “Squeaky Pedal were fantastic to work with throughout the filmmaking process. Their approach was creative and imaginative whilst also understanding of our requirements, they were very much focused on engaging the audience and utilised effective storytelling to convey our key messages.”
The collection of short films can be viewed on the Squeaky Pedal website.
Earlier this summer, Squeaky Pedal celebrated winning the Pandemic Pivot Award at the industry’s Museum + Heritage Awards.