William Morris and Fantasy

William Morris’ fantasy books resonate with my bibliophile heart. Epic voyages told through folkloric narratives, his fantasies contributed to the birth of the Fantasy genre as we know it. As if that weren’t enough, he presented these works to the world in breathtaking volumes that are the epitome of typography and ornament.   It is his…
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William Morris and Le Morte d’Arthur

Since finishing Le Morte d’Arthur, I’ve been refreshing my memory and reading all the references I can find regarding Pre-Raphaelite art and Arthurian influences. My first choice was a William Morris biography that I happily stumbled across at a flea market a few years ago. There’s one paragraph in particular that always stands out to…
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William Morris at Merton

I must express my gratitude to Dave Saxby for sending me a copy of his book William Morris at Merton.  Written in 1995, William Morris at Merton won the best library book in Britain and an award from the John Bull prize for literature.  Copies can be purchased at the Museum of London.  I’m always…
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Shameful Death, William Morris

Shameful Death by William Morris There were four of us about that bed; The mass-priest knelt at the side, I and his mother stood at the head, Over his feet lay the bride; We were quite sure that he was dead, Though his eyes were open wide. He did not die in the night, He…
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Near But Far Away, William Morris

Near But Far Away She wavered, stopped and turned, methought her eyes, The deep grey windows of her heart, were wet, Methought they softened with a new regret To note in mine unspoken miseries, And as a prayer from out my heart did rise And struggled on my lips in shame’s strong net, She stayed…
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The Diaries of William Allingham

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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Wombats love Jane Morris

Inspired by artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s passion for wombats, every Friday is Wombat Friday at Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood. “The Wombat is a Joy, a Triumph, a Delight, a Madness!” ~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti Happy #WombatFriday!  Our art-loving wombat admires a photograph of Jane Morris. You know wombats are drawn to Jane Morris’ unconventional beauty.  Last weekend,…
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101 years ago today, Jane Morris died

Today marks the anniversary of Jane Morris’ death 101 years ago. Wife of William Morris, she was immortalized on canvas repeatedly by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Here’s the post I wrote last year: 100 years after her death, Jane Morris continues to inspire. Also written last year, The Hour Glass: On Jane Morris and Aging. A…
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100 Years After Her Death, Jane Morris Continues to Inspire

Jane Burden and her sister Bessie were attending a theatre performance when they were spotted by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones.  When Gabriel asked Jane to model for them, her initial answer was yes–although later she failed to appear.  Burne-Jones was apparently able to convince Jane and her family that their intentions were respectable…
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The Handwriting of Jane Morris

You may remember Dutch artist Margje Bijl from my previous blog posts about her project “Reflections on Jane Morris”. If you’re not familiar with her yet, let me introduce you to her. I believe she has an uncanny resemblance with Jane Morris, the Pre-Raphaelite muse who lived from 1839 till 1914. As I described in…
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Reflections on Jane Morris

Imagine discovering a double from another century. In 2004, it happened to Dutch artist Margje Bijl. She was given a photograph of Jane Morris by an acquaintance and at first glance thought she was looking at herself. Intrigued by Jane and inspired by their similarity, she has created the project ‘Reflections on Jane Morris’, in…
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William Michael Rossetti on Elizabeth Siddal

I’ve also posted this at LizzieSiddal.com, so if you are subscribed to both through RSS then I apologize for the repetition: William Michael Rossetti was the brother of Dante Gabriel and an original member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Read his contributions to the Pre-Raphaelite journal The Germ here. He was considered a “secretary of the…
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Jane Morris: An Enigmatic Muse

In 1857, Rossetti and a small group of artists that included William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones were working in Oxford, painting the Union Murals.  One night, they attended a performance put on by actors from the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.  Seated in the gallery below were Jane Burden and her sister.  Rossetti, struck by Jane’s…
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Cold Weather Reading

Today has been cold and grey, the kind of day that makes me want to do nothing other than curl up and read.  I’ve been reading A Private Disgrace: Lizzie Borden by Daylight, which I recently scooped up at a library book sale. As I set it aside, I thought about the fact that reading…
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On Aging

Jane Morris was swept into the Pre-Raphaelite world at age eighteen.  She was La Belle Iseult to William Morris, who declared “I cannot paint you; but I love you”. Then she was Pandora, Mnemosyne, Astarte Syriaca and other assorted goddesses to Dante Gabriel Rossetti.  Years later, after the Pre-Raphaelite bloom had faded from her cheeks, we see Jane on canvas again in Evelyn…
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Amy

When I first discovered Pre-Raphaelite art, I was a seventeen year old girl with a passion for stories.  Beautifully told stories.  I was never a feel-good, always-a-happy-ending kind of girl.  I liked a story with teeth and a hint of melancholy, stories with layers to unfold and explore.  Pre-Raphaelite art is filled with such tales….
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The Imprisonment of Pia

In 1868, Dante Gabriel Rossetti painted Jane Morris as La Pia de Tolomei.  Pia appears in Canto V  of Purgatorio in the Divine Comedy. Pia’s story is a sad one. Dante encountered her during his journey through Purgatory, where she remains since she has died without absolution.  She says to Dante “remember me, the one who is Pia; Siena made…
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In Which the Birthday Girl Shows You Paintings

Today begins the forty-second year of ME!  ‘Tis my birthday! In Ulysses, Tennyson said ‘I am a part of all that I have met’ and I believe that to be true.  Our experiences add to our depth and the people and things I’ve met in life are part of my story, including the art and…
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Love is Enough

William Morris’ Love is Enough has been on my mind this morning. “He makes a poem these days–in dismal Queen Square in black old filthy London in dull end of October he makes a pretty poem that is to be wondrously happy; and it has four sets of lovers in it and THEY ALL ARE HAPPY…
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