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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The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter

One of my favorite posts on this site is Monstrous Women, where I briefly discuss my admiration for not only Mary Shelley, but women in fiction and myth that can be considered monstrosities.  They pop up on Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood repeatedly.  Lamia, for example, or Sidonia and  Medusa.   The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter…
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Summer Reading

Sometimes my reading life is haphazard and I dip into whatever strikes me fancy. (The right book, more often than not, seems to find me instead of the other way around.) Other times, I get a great deal of joy in creating an active reading plan to pursue. On Monday I posted William Michael Rossetti’s…
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A Rossetti Reading List

I’ve been re-reading Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Family Letters, edited by his brother William Michael Rossetti.  I was struck by this passage about DGR’s reading habits.  First of all, I love William Michael’s descriptors.  Saying Rossetti ‘drunk deep of an author’ and ‘surged through its pages like a flame’ presents a reading life that mirrors the…
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The Kelmscott Chaucer

In 1891, William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in an effort to realize his vision of creating exquisitely crafted books.  Joining him in this endeavor was his longtime friend Sir Edward Burne-Jones, who contributed over one hundred designs to Kelmscott Press editions. The books they created were unique in their craftsmanship and beauty, which you…
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Melusine

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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#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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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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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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Embracing Dante Alighieri

“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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Pan, Piper at the Gates of Dawn

Above is a detail from Arthur Rackham’s illustration of Pan from The Wind in the Willows. I first became enchanted by Pan when, as a little girl, I read The Wind in the Willows. I was in love with that book from the moment Mole became fed up with his spring-cleaning, left his hole, and met…
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The Testament of Sophie Dawes

When the Prince Consort died, Queen Victoria mourned for the rest of her life.   She would not allow the room where he passed to ever be changed; she wore black attire (her widow’s weeds) for the next forty years.  Many busts, statues, and memorials to Prince Albert were commissioned.  His belongings and papers were treated…
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Perdita, the lost girl

Perdita (seen above) was painted by Frederick Sandys with  Mary Emma Jones as the model.  Also known by her stage name Miss Clive, Mary Emma Jones appears in several of Sandys’ works.  They never married, but the couple did have ten children together.  Sandys was a bit of a rogue when it came to his…
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Art of the Story

In a post a few years ago, I said that my love of Pre-Raphaelite art probably stems from my lifelong love of stories.  Much of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work presents a narrative often inspired by literature and myth.  I have noticed recently that a number of Victorian artworks are not just the telling of a story,…
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We Are Villains All

Synopsis: 1890, Daneburton, Hampshire: Maud Blake, spinster companion to flighty, young Emeline Hutchinson, is the least important woman at the weekly poetry circle. She sits at the back, barely able to see the poet who presides over them all, but she requires only his words to fuel her dreams. For twenty years Max has lived peacefully…
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Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

In the early years of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, artist Walter Deverell discovered Elizabeth Siddal working in a millinery shop.  After modeling for his painting Twelfth Night, Siddal posed for several Pre-Raphaelite painters, including William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais.  It was the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti who was captivated by her. He drew and…
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Hide Me Among the Graves

Tim Powers doesn’t write about your run-of-the-mill vampires.  His undead may feed upon you, but in return they will inspire words and poetry that you could never have written before.  I found Powers’ mythology to be a refreshing twist.  In Hide Me Among the Graves, the artistic Rossetti family deals with the vampiric curse of…
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Bookish Wombats

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 Well, we’ve reached another #WombatFriday.  I’m currently in the middle of Judith Flanders’ book The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens’ London.  I…
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Book review: Ophelia’s Muse

The romance of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Elizabeth Siddal lends itself well to fiction. It’s a story that has it all: beauty, pathos, and the synergy of artistic creation that flowed between them. Author Rita Cameron’s new book Ophelia’s Muse tells the story of Elizabeth Siddal’s discovery by the Pre-Raphaelite circle and how it led…
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A Wombat follows the Lover’s Path

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 This week author Kris Waldherr shared a guest post about the Pre-Raphaelites and Venice, a subject dear to her heart and a source…
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