Georgiana Burne-Jones was introduced to the Pre-Raphaelite circle through her relationship with the man she would later marry, her childhood sweetheart, Edward Burne-Jones.
The daughter of a Methodist minister, Georgie was the fifth out of eleven children. Their upbringing was strict and, according to Jan Marsh in Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, reading the works of Shakespeare and attending the theater were forbidden and considered sinful in their family.
Georgie had known “Ned”, as Edward was called, since she was a child. Compared to her strict upbringing, Ned’s world of art must have been exciting for Georgie. At the beginning of their engagement, Ned introduced Georgie to Rossetti, Millais, and William Morris.
“I wish it were possible to explain the impression made upon me as a young girl whose experience so far had been quite remote from art, by sudden and close intercourse with those to whom it was the breath of life. The only approach I can make to describing it is by saying that I felt in the presence of a new religion. Their love of beauty did not seem to me unbalanced, but as if it included the whole world.”Georgiana on her introduction to the Pre-Raphaelites. (Memorials of Edward Burne-Jones)
After a lengthy engagement, Ned and Georgie married and she was swept into a world of Pre-Raphaelite creativity. The Burne-Jones’ clan and the Morris’ (William and Jane) maintained a close relationship. Georgie was also quite fond of Elizabeth Siddal and is one of the few sources we have that offer us a glimpse into Siddal’s personality and life.
Georgie and her sisters became the wives and mothers of several key figures in Victorian society: her sister Alice married Edward Poynter, a painter who eventually became Director of the National Gallery and, later, President of the Royal Academy. Their sister Louisa gave birth to future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and another sister, Alice, was the mother of Rudyard Kipling.
Georgiana’s two-volume book, Memorials of Burne-Jones, offers great insight into the life and works of Sir Edward Burne-Jones, and a vital source of information about those involved with the Pre-Raphaelites.