In this innovative study Nancy Henry introduces a set of facts that place George Eliot's life and work within the contexts of mid-nineteenth-century British colonialism and imperialism. Henry examines Eliot's roles as an investor in colonial stocks, a parent to emigrant sons, and a reader of colonial literature. She highlights the importance of these contexts to our understanding of both Eliot's fiction and her situation within Victorian culture. Henry argues that Eliot's decision to represent the empire only as it infiltrated the imaginations and domestic lives of her characters illuminates the nature of her Realism. The book also re-examines the assumptions of postcolonial criticism about Victorian fiction and its relation to empire.