Tomorrow the Pre-Raphaelite Society will hold its first online book meeting on Twitter and I hope you’ll join us.  We’ll be discussing A.S. Byatt’s book Possession,  a book that holds a special place in my heart.  When I first read it I was a seventeen-year-old girl with an intense literary craving.  It was Sir Edward…
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Dear 2017,


Well, hello there 2017! We’ve barely begun to get acquainted. I don’t have a feel for you yet. You still hold that thrilling newness and I can not peek inside of you. But I know that right now, you are magical. At this moment you are twelve months of possibility. And I long to dwell…
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May the Force Be With You


When Victorian artist Ford Madox Brown saw William Charles Macready play King Lear, the performance inspired the artist so much that he passionately sketched and painted several depictions of it. (You can see one above. Cordelia is modeled by Brown’s wife Emma, the fool is fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.)  This is the kind of…
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#PRSBook Club: Let’s Read Possession!


The Pre-Raphaelite Society is bringing their book club to Twitter! This is exciting news and I’m honored to be a part of it.  I hope you will read along with us and join in on what promises to be a great discussion.  I am especially happy that using a venue like Twitter will help open…
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Goblin Market


“We must not look at goblin men, We must not buy their fruits:” Written in 1859 by  Christina Rossetti (sister to Dante Gabriel Rossetti), Goblin Market is a narrative poem of two sisters who encounter temptation. It is a complex poem–almost too complex to delve into for a blog post simply because it is hard…
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A Primordial Venus

Astarte Syriaca, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Also see Those Rossetti Lips

I’ve written about Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s painting Astarte Syriaca (1877) more than once on this blog, saying in Those Rossetti Lips:  She could totally crush you.  It’s a powerful painting, one of my favorites. I realize that it may not be to everyone’s taste. Especially if you are not already a Rossetti fan, it could come…
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Menacing Beauty

John William Waterhouse's  'A Mermaid' plays an important role in 'A Mad, Wicked Folly'

“There’s always a siren singing you to shipwreck.” – Radiohead, “There, There” Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse depicts a scene from Jason and the Argonauts.  Hylas was the son of King Theiodamas, who was killed in battle by Herakles.  Herakles then raised Hylas as his own. Known for both his striking beauty and his…
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Painting the Soul

Psyche Entering Cupid's Garden, John William Waterhouse

At the age of twenty-one, Dante Gabriel Rossetti wrote the short story Hand and Soul, which was published in The Germ, a short-lived magazine created by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.    Not only does the story  offer a glimpse into the young Rossetti’s beliefs and aspirations  but it seems to be the only work of fiction…
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Marigolds, Sacred Flowers for the Dead


Our Halloween revelry is over and now we honor our ancestors with the Day of the Dead.  Throughout Mexico and the Southwestern U.S.,  this is Dia de los Muertos, a special event that focuses on togetherness of family and friends and honoring those who have passed on.  It is a beautiful way to honor the…
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Halloween, Pre-Raphaelites, and Keats

'Speak! Speak!' Sir John Everett Millais.

I think Sir John Everett Millais’ painting Speak! Speak! is a perfect Pre-Raphaelite image to share on Halloween.   The ghost of a bride appears to her love.  He reaches out to her, urging her to speak. It’s a haunting image and the concept had been on the artist’s mind for forty years before he…
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Shakespeare Magazine


I am honored and excited to be in the current issue of Shakespeare Magazine. Huge thank you to editor Pat Reid for publishing my article on Elizabeth Siddal and Ophelia. It’s a gorgeous issue! Read it free online You can follow Shakespeare Magazine on Facebook and Twitter. Visit  

Victorian Murder


In 1857, a twenty-two-year-old woman stood trial in Glasgow for murdering her former lover. It was the cause célèbre of the day and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti declared her too beautiful to be executed whether she was guilty or not, saying, “you wouldn’t hang a stunner!” (‘Letters of DG Rossetti’, Atlantic Monthly vol. 77) Rossetti…
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The Diaries of William Allingham

William Allingham reading.  Painted by his wife, artist Helen Allingham.  Visit the Helen Allingham Society.

If you’re interested in studying the Victorian era seriously, then diaries and letters are important.  At times I feel like a 21st-century snoop, devouring personal journals and private correspondence whenever I get the chance.  Through contemporary accounts, the past may not always come alive but it shines through the mist more clearly.  The diaries of…
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Help #RememberFanny

Drawing of Fanny Cornforth by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

In 1858, artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti met Fanny Cornforth and she was unlike any model he had ever used.  I don’t think that it is a coincidence that after meeting Fanny, his work developed a new and startling style. There is no denying that it is her face that appears in the first work that ushered in a…
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Botanical Paintings: My Top Picks


An  important hallmark of Pre-Raphaelite art is truth to nature.  Of course, there are many reasons why the art of the Pre-Raphaelites is so visually striking.  Their subject matter often illustrates a compelling narrative,  the vibrant hues they used results in a visually arresting effect that commands attention, and who can resist the beauty of…
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The Symbolism of Lepidoptera

'The Hireling Shepherd', William Holman Hunt

Truth to nature was one of the main tenets of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and an excellent example of this can be seen in the Death’s Head moth in William Holman Hunt’s painting The Hireling Shepherd (above).  I’ve blogged about it many times before; it’s part of my Shakespeare post that I share yearly on the…
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The Witch’s Heart


This morning I shared on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page  Edward Poynter’s portrait of Georgiana Burne-Jones, wife of Sir Edward Burne-Jones who was an important figure in the second wave of Pre-Raphaelitism.   In ‘The Last Pre-Raphaelite’ biographer Fiona MacCarthy describes the watch Georgie’s wearing on a chain as a “ball-shaped gold watch studded with chrysolites…
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Sleep, Pale Sister


Before writing her famous bestseller Chocolat, Joanne Harris penned Sleep, Pale Sister, a provocative 19th-century story of madness, lies, and laudanum. Written in 1994, it was reprinted ten years later and introduced to a broader audience.  The recent reprint contains bonus materials in the back for further discussion including an author interview and background information…
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T-Shirt Sale!


Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood T Shirts feature an image of Elizabeth Siddal seated at an easel, painted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  I’ve knocked $5 off so now you can get your Lizzie Siddal shirt for $15 plus shipping. Shirts are available in a slightly fitted women’s cut. Gildan brand, pre-shrunk. I ship USPS Priority Mail within the…
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Embracing Dante Alighieri

'Giotto painting the portrait of Dante', Dante Gabriel Rossetti

“In the middle of the journey of our life, I found myself in a dark wood, for the straight path was lost”  So begins Dante’s journey through Inferno (hell), Purgatorio (purgatory), and Paradiso (paradise).  His travels through these  three areas of the afterlife make up La Divina Commedia, the Divine Comedy.  I came to the…
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Searching for Symbolic Windows


Last week I posted Evelyn De Morgan’s Hope in a Prison of Despair (seen above) on the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood Facebook page. A happy byproduct of sharing things on the Pre-Raph Sisterhood Facebook page is that when people comment, like, or share the post, it pops up in my own feed again.  I noticed that the…
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