Desperate Romantics : The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites, Paperback

Desperate Romantics : The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Their Bohemian lifestyle and intertwined love affairs shockingly broke 19th Century class barriers and bent the rules that governed the roles of the sexes.

They became defined by love triangles, played out against the austere moral climate of Victorian England; they outraged their contemporaries with their loves, jealousies and betrayals, and they stunned society when their complex moral choices led to madness and suicide, or when their permissive experiments ended in addiction and death.

The characters are huge and vivid and remain as compelling today as they were in their own time.

The influential critic, writer and artist John Ruskin was their father figure and his apostles included the painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the designer William Morris.

They drew extraordinary women into their circle. In a move intended to raise eyebrows for its social audacity, they recruited the most ravishing models they could find from the gutters of Victorian slums.

The saga is brought to life through the vivid letters and diaries kept by the group and the accounts written by their contemporaries.

These real-lie stories shed new light on the greatest nineteenth-century British art.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432 pages, 16pp inset section
  • Publisher: John Murray General Publishing Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Art & design styles: Pre-Raphaelite art
  • ISBN: 9781848540507



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

This is a good story, well told. It's easy to read but thoroughly researched. I've never liked the Pre-Raphaelites, but this sent me back to some of the paintings with fresh eyes. Great fun and lots of scandal.

Review by

Focusing on the beginning of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the artists who formed it, this book takes an in-depth look at the lives of Rossetti, Malias and Ruskin whose lives became intwined. These were men from the upper socioeconomic rungs, they chose models from the lower econmic scale, whom they called "Stunners." Lizzie Siddal, Annie Miller, Jane Burden and Fanny Corforth all represented the sulky, beautiful women who indeed forever transcended the criticism of both the art movement and the definition of beauty..Recommended for those who appreciate the works of the Pre-Raphaelite artists.

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