About This Quote
This quote has been attributed to the writer George Eliot dating back as far as 1881; however, it does not appear in any of Eliot's known writings. Thus, the attribution may be apocryphal. The first printed instance of the quote attributed to George Eliot was in the periodical “Literary News: A Monthly Journal of Current Literature” in 1881, the year after Eliot died. The quote was submitted by a reader as part of an article which compiled Eliot's best quotations. However, the quotes were not vetted for accuracy and researchers later found that this quote was unsourced and did not appear in any of Eliot's published writings. Still, the quote's popularity and attribution to Eliot has persisted to this day. It is possible that the quote is a rewording of a line from the poem “The Ghost in the Picture Room” written by poet Adelaide Anne Procter and published in 1859. The line is "We always may be what we might have been."