Here we see Virginia Woolf subtly suggesting that she would expect us to perceive a difference in importance between the three novelists mentioned: the implication being that Miss Mitford and Mrs. Gaskell could be perceived as rather more 'light-weight' and insignificant than George Eliot.
Extracts from 'Our Village':
'... that which appears to me most delightful is a little village far in the country ... with inhabitants whose faces are as familiar to us as the flowers in our garden.'
'... a light, delicate, fair-haired girl of fourteen, the champion, protectress and playfellow of every brat under three years old, whom she jumps, dances, dandles and feeds all day long.'
George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann (Marian) Evans (1819-1880), a highly-esteemed English Victorian novelist.
Extract from Mill on the Floss:
'...brother and sister had gone down in an embrace never to be parted; living through again in one supreme moment the days when they had clasped their little hands in love and roamed the daisied fields together.'
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1810-1865) was an English novelist and short story writer, well-known for her novel Cranford, and her biography of Charlotte Brontë.