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

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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Seance on a Wet Afternoon

I have added a few new screenshots to the Pre-Raphaelite Sightings page from the 1964 movie Seance on a Wet Afternoon. Seen above is the opening scene which features William Morris ‘Willow Bough’ patterned wallpaper in the background. This wallpaper was designed by Morris in 1887. Seance on a Wet Afternoon is a rather dark…
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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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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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Delightful! The Rossettis as cartoon characters

You know I love the Rossetti family, but I have never thought of them as adorable before.  Until I saw the illustrations of Chiara Moriconi, who captures the Rossetti clan delightfully. Here’s a link to the Rossetti album on Facebook, and a wonderful video that introduces members of Rossetti’s circle via chiaramoriconi.com.  

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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Keats and the Pre-Raphaelites

I recently saw an interview with Jane Campion on Charlie Rose and was interested as she discussed her latest film, Bright Star.    Based on the three-year romance between  John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats’ untimely death at age 25. Keats was an inspiration to the Pre-Raphaelites.   His poem The Eve…
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Images of Guinevere

Medievalism grew in popularity early in the nineteenth century England and had a definite influence on William Morris especially, who even rode a horse in a toy suit of armor as a child. It is interesting that the story of Lancelot and Guinevere can be seen as a parallel to the story of William Morris and…
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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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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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The Defence of Guenevere

The Defence of Guenevere, by William Morris But, knowing now that they would have her speak, She threw her wet hair backward from her brow, Her hand close to her mouth touching her cheek, As though she had had there a shameful blow, And feeling it shameful to feel ought but shame All through her…
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A Visit to the Red House

Artist Paul Noonan has been kind and generous enough to share his personal photos of his trip to Red House four years ago. Thank you, Paul, for sharing with us! I encourage you all to visit his website, http://www.portr8s.com. He has a gift for portraiture and has been greatly influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites. Please don’t…
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