The Clue in the Old Book

For Christmas, my husband surprised me with a nearly pristine 1905 first edition set of William Holman Hunt’s Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This is what I looked like when I opened the two volumes. Shocked, grateful, overwhelmed. Loved. Books have long been the key to my heart. Antique books hold a special place in … Read more

#WombatFriday What’s on your summer reading list?

Wombat Friday Love and Light

It’s Wombat Friday and T-Dub sure is excited about his latest poolside read! Light and Love: The Extraordinary Developments of Julia Margaret Cameron and Mary Hillier by the ever-charming Kirsty Stonell Walker. Want to add some Pre-Raphaelite flavor to your summer reading? Here’s a Rossetti reading list based on books the artist enjoyed, and a … Read more

Book Review – Light and Love: The Extraordinary Developments of Julia Margaret Cameron and Mary Hillier

Kirsty Stonell Walker’s Light and Love: The Extraordinary Developments of Julia Margaret Cameron and Mary Hillier intriguingly explores how the gift of a camera transformed the lives of two women, one the lady of the house, the other her maid. Together they created a unique body of work that influenced countless generations of photographers. Julia … Read more

Barely Clare

I confess that Clare Mackail, youngest granddaughter of Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones, had previously been a mere blip on my radar. That is, of course, until Tim McGee channeled his fascination for her into Barely Clare: The Little-Known Life of Clare Mackail. Of Burne-Jones’ three grandchildren, Clare has been overshadowed by the accomplishments of … Read more

Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy

The Beyond the Brotherhood: The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy exhibition is currently running at the the U.K.’s Southampton City Art Gallery until Feb. 1, 2020, after which it will move to the Russell-Cotes gallery from February 21 until June 21, 2020. The exhibit’s accompanying softcover catalog is the latest addition to my bulging Pre-Raphaelite bookshelves, and it … Read more

The Women of Whitechapel

Attempting to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper has been a cottage industry for over a hundred years. But, until now, there has never been a concerted effort to truly understand the women he killed. Dedicated Ripperologists have long pored over books, crime scene descriptions, and witness accounts to form theories about methods, motives, … Read more

Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang

I’ve amassed quite a collection of Pre-Raphaelite books over the years and the addition of Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang to my shelves adds something alive. It buzzes with energy and a sense that, just by reading it, we are tapping into a collective consciousness of artistic women whose endeavors richly deserve to be remembered and honored. When … Read more

“The best thing for being sad is to learn something.”

I’ve spent my entire adult life pursuing Pre-Raphaelite art and in doing so, I find that what I actually discover is myself.  Art and literature are crucial to my well-being, it provides a framework to draw upon when I need to process heavy emotion.  If daily life intervenes and I allow my pursuit of art … Read more

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 … Read more

A Rossetti Reading List

While 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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more