George Henry Lewes was an English philosopher and critic of literature and theatre. He became part of the mid-Victorian ferment of ideas which encouraged discussion of Darwinism, positivism, and religious skepticism. However, he is perhaps best known today for having openly lived with George Eliot, a soul-mate whose life and writings were enriched by their friendship.Lewes, born in London, was an illegitimate son of a minor poet, John Lee Lewes, and Elizabeth Ashweek and grandson of comic actor Charles Lee Lewes. His mother married a retired sea capain when he was six and frequent changes of home meant he was educated in London, Jersey, Brittany, and finally at Dr Charles Burney's school in Greenwich. Having abandoned successively a commercial and a medical career, he seriously thought of becoming an actor and appeared several times on stage between 1841 and 1850. Finally he devoted himself to literature, science and philosophy.As early as 1836 he belonged to a club formed for the study of philosophy, and had sketched out a physiological treatment of the philosophy of the Scottish school. Two years later he went to Germany, probably with the intention of studying philosophy.He became friends with Leigh Hunt, and through him, entered London literary society and met John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Dickens.In 1841 he married Agnes Jervis, daughter of Swynfen Stevens Jervis.Lewes met the writer Marian Evans, later to be famous as George Eliot, in 1851, and by 1854 they had decided to live together. Lewes and Agnes Jervis had agreed to have an open marriage, and in addition to the three children they had together, Agnes had also had several children by other men. Since Lewes was named on the birth certificate as the father of one of these children despite knowing this to be false, and was therefore considered complicit in adultery, he was not able to divorce Agnes. In July 1854 Lewes and Evans travelled to Weimar and Berlin together for the purpose of research.The trip to Germany also served as a honeymoon as Evans and Lewes were now effectively married, with Evans calling herself Marian Evans Lewes, and referring to Lewes as her husband. It was not unusual for men in Victorian society to have affairs; Charles Dickens, Friedrich Engels and Wilkie Collins had committed relationships with women they were not married to, though more discreetly than Lewes. What was scandalous was the Leweses' open admission of the relationship.