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William and Lucy: The Other Rossettis Hardcover – 3 Oct 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (3 Oct. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306466511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300102000
  • ASIN: 0300102003
  • Product Dimensions: 24.5 x 16.6 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,238,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'....a delicious slice of social and cultural life in the second half of the nineteenth century.' -- The Mail on Sunday, December 12 2004

'...she can present so much detailed material in such a leisurely manner that it feels entirely natural.' -- The Art Book, September 2004

'Angela Thirlwell's account of [William's] marriage...provides a new perspective on an enlightened and politically radical Victorian couple.' -- RA Magazine, Autumn 2003

'[an] original and engaging intense and delicately inflected as Raphaelite painting...a remarkable achievement, impeccably researched.' -- Frances Spalding, Independent, 7 November, 2003

First choice in 'Christmas Book Selections, 2004' -- Kathryn Hughes, Front Row, BBC Radio 4, 8 December, 2004

‘Angela Thirlwell’s account...provides a new perspective on an enlightened and politically radical Victorian couple’ -- RA Magazine, Autumn 2003

‘This is a serious and substantial work, drawing on wide-ranging archival sources for its previously unpublished information’ -- Charlotte Gere, Art Newspaper, January 2004

‘[an] original and engaging study…as intense and delicately inflected as a Pre-Raphaelite painting…a remarkable achievement, impeccably researched’ -- Frances Spalding, Independent, 7 November 2003

‘a wonderfully illuminating study of a whole slice of 19th-century cultural, social and intellectual life’ -- Kathryn Hughes, Guardian, 3 January 2004

‘meticulously researched and magnificently illustrated…excellent’ -- Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review, November 2003

About the Author

Angela Thirlwell is an independent scholar, who has written widely about the Pre-Raphaelites.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 17 Jan. 2004
Format: Hardcover
A wonderfully insightful book about two people at the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, their story is told, not as a microscopic account from cradle to grave, but in a series of detailed and illuminating snapshots of aspects of their lives, both joint and separate. This method of biography, without the constraints of a lineal narrative, makes it possible to look in detail at their marriage and family life, their careers, their relationships with others and the Pre-Raphaelite movement in a way that makes the subjects very real. The extracts from the couple's letters (they were prolific letter writers when apart) give a glimpse of a real Victorian marriage in a way that confounds received ideas of the Victorians and their family relationships, even if Lucy and Michael were, in some ways, less than typical. It is one the great strengths of this book that Lucy and Michael really do 'come alive' to the reader without resorting to fictional representation and it is impossible to read the story of this marriage without being touched by the appalling reality of Lucy's terminal illness.
One particularly fascinating aspect of this book is looking at the much better know Pre-Raphaelite figures from another point of view - that of their nearest and dearest to whom they were not always heroes and heroines.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recomment it unreservedly.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Michael Rossetti was famously described as a fool by William Morris, in what must have been a rare moment of annoyance (probably not with WM, but with DG, an unpleasant individual who bullied Morris in various ingeniouis ways throughout his life). In fact, as this wonderfully absorbing book shows, the two men had much in common. Both inhabited the intellectual world that was inventing English socialism, both were broad-minded and well-travelled Europeans, both were healthy and vigorous men whose wives were troubled by variant forms of invalidity, both worked hard all their lives and generously directed the proceeds to the good of others, with no thought of a return.

WM Rossetti is a lesser-known figure, who on first acquaintace with the pre-Raphaelite movement can appear dull beside his more flamboyant siblings. But there are many ways of being creative, and many ways of furthering the cause of art. WM worked as a civil servant for 50 years, relegating his own intellectual and creative life to out-of-office hours so that DG, in particular, could indulge himself on the proceeds. Any reader unsure about this book because they consider one of its subjects uninteresting, and have perhaps never heard of the other, is recommended to borrow it from a library first. That is what I did, and within a year decided that yes, I really did need to have my own copy. And the book has set me off down other paths - exploring works by their even less well-known daughter, Helen. You see, you just never know where these things will lead.

The research behind the book is meticulous and wide-ranging, and it is beautifully written, with a well-judged level and quality of detail.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
A must for Pre-Raphaelite/Rossetti collections/collectors 1 May 2015
By Stephen Constantelos - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the few books I wish I'd paid more for. There are no other reviews here, but I do hope all academic libraries with Pre-Raphaelite/Rossetti collections as well as enthusiasts of the group and 19th-century art and literature in general will consider snapping it up.

The book is episodic and arranged topically and works very nicely, revealing the characters, personalities, and snippets of daily life for the couple. Lushly produced on glossy paper, it is weighty literally and in its content. Thirlwell is thorough, much like William, and, also like William, not always the height of engaging, describing whatever topic at hand to almost ad nauseam levels--even William and Lucy's flirtations with seances and other forms of spirit-rapping are catalogued in a way that nearly makes them dull.

Still, when one sees the lovely little reproduced picture of a viola flower by William, a quaint and interesting map of William and Lucy's London, and a photo family tree that preface the book, one knows one is in for a treat by an assiduous enthusiast of the pair. Everything is thoroughly noted and topics at hand are: sketches/pictures/portraits of the couple, family relations, life at work, seances, the Pre-Raphaelite circle, their work in the arts and letters, marriage, politics, Lucy's illness and therapeutic times abroad, and the coda of William's lengthy remaining life, post-Lucy.

Lucy Madox Brown Rossetti's story is intertwined with William's throughout the book, letters are quoted from, colorful anecdotes related. It's a pleasure to read despite moments where one is induced to skim.

As a note on two even more obscure Rossettis, I've also managed to obtain PDFs of Maria Rossetti's "The Shadow of Dante" and paterfamilias Gabriele's translated autobiographical poem with notes and letters, the latter edited (of course) by William.
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