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

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

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 … 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

Art of the Story

Much of the Pre-Raphaelites’ work presents a narrative often inspired by literature and myth, but there are also a number of Victorian artworks are not just the telling of a story, but a depiction of a story being told. In the example above, Dante Gabriel Rossetti rapidly sketched Tennyson as he read his poem Maud … Read more

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 … Read more

Did Elizabeth Siddal inspire Bram Stoker?

Photograph of Elizabeth Siddal

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 most captivated by her. He drew … Read more

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 … Read more

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 … Read more