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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Absorbing Biography
Having a great interest in the world of the Pre-Raphaelites already, I thought at best it would be an interesting read - but it is such a well researched and absorbing book I could not put it down. Lizzie is seen here as human, her life the tragedy of it, and the fact that Rossetti did not cause all of her problems. However I could not leave the book with a dislike of...
Published on 17 Feb. 2006

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light on facts, heavy on speculation
I picked this up in the gift shop at Brantwood, John Ruskin's house in the Lake District, and looked forward to reading a biography of the female artist he patronised. I came away from the book feeling as if I had a superficial understanding of Lizzie Siddal, but knew very little fact. The book is full of summaries of letters about Lizzie, including the author's...
Published on 25 May 2010 by H. Adams


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Light on facts, heavy on speculation, 25 May 2010
By 
H. Adams (Cambridge, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel (Hardcover)
I picked this up in the gift shop at Brantwood, John Ruskin's house in the Lake District, and looked forward to reading a biography of the female artist he patronised. I came away from the book feeling as if I had a superficial understanding of Lizzie Siddal, but knew very little fact. The book is full of summaries of letters about Lizzie, including the author's opinions about what was meant by the letter-writer, but fewer excerpts to let a reader determine for herself. I read often that Lizzie could be haughty and cold, but this was never supported with any evidence or examples of when this behaviour began, just references to other people's reactions. The author makes a great leap of logic early on, saying that Rosetti persuaded Lizzie's family to drop the second 'l' from their surname only for her father to reconsider and to restore it, all on the basis that the spelling of the name changes from Siddall to Siddal and back to Siddall on the 1841, 1851 and 1861 censuses respectively: anyone who has done even the slightest bit of research using a census will know that the enumerator's phonetic spelling has nothing to do with how the family spelt their name. I felt that the book was more opinion than fact, especially from the amount of supposition: "Lizzie must have felt..." "It's possible that..." throuhgout. There are some interesting anecdotes about Lizzie's painting and the inclusion of her poetry is welcome, but I still feel as if I have very little knowledge of Lizzie's life.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Absorbing Biography, 17 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
Having a great interest in the world of the Pre-Raphaelites already, I thought at best it would be an interesting read - but it is such a well researched and absorbing book I could not put it down. Lizzie is seen here as human, her life the tragedy of it, and the fact that Rossetti did not cause all of her problems. However I could not leave the book with a dislike of her sometimes manipulative nature. Such is the success of this book. You will not be disappointed if you read it.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An all too modern romance, 25 July 2005
By A Customer
This is an absorbing book. I had heard of Lizzie Siddal, and I like the Pre-Raphaelite painting style but I have no specialist knowledge of art history or nineteenth-century society. I decided to read this on the basis of good reviews and an interest in the lives of women at the time. It didn't disappoint. Like the other reviwer, I read it in a single sitting. Although the writing isn't faultless it is easy to read and to follow, and the author's good use of sources ensures that the context of 19th Century London and the cast of well-known characters (including William Morris, Ford Madox Brown and Christina Rosetti) come vividly to life. Most engaging of all is the central character of Lizzie herself. She appears as a flawed, needy and highly sensitive being, pushed into hysteria and manipulation by the reticence of her partner, Dante Gabriel Rosetti. As the story emerges, it is clear that the relationship between them and its tragic consequences could just as easily unfold in modern society as in 1850s and 1860s London. The sensitive young woman craving love and emotional security (despite her independent income)and the commitment-phobic, egocentric bachelor who wants to have his cake and eat it, are, unfortunately, thoroughly recognisable, modern characters.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining, 28 Sept. 2004
By A Customer
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I read this book in one weekend - it was enthralling and covered not just Lizzie but the Pre-Raphaelite circle during her life. Given the (little) amount of details available on the aspects of Lizzie's life the author has created a well written insight into her personality and work. The author explores her relationship with Rossetti and although details both their faults does have a judgemental tone. It would have been interesting to have more detail on what happened to the rest of her circle after her death - though that is probably another book in itself..
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining if insubstantial, 17 Jun. 2007
The subject of the mysterious Elizabeth Siddal is always interesting but I found this book rather lightweight. The background information placing Siddal in her contemporary context (eg. the life of milliners in the 19th century) is perhaps the best thing about it. A lot of it seems to be based on speculation. For a more comprehensive book on the same subject I would recommend Jan Marsh's biography 'The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal'.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Reading Must!, 3 Jan. 2008
By 
J. Proctor "Serafina" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is a seriously wonderful book.

Charting the short, tragic life of Lizzie Siddal from youth to death and all the bits in between, this book is an absolute joy to read.

Impeccably researched and wonderfully written, it had me crying buckets at the end, but also taught me things I didn't know about her life and death, her relationships and what must have been an emotionally devastating love affair and marriage with the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

If you are a student of Victoriana, have an interest in the Pre-Raphaelite world, or just enjoy an excellent biography, then this is most definitely the book for you. It's absolutely worth every penny I paid and I will be reading it again - just as soon as it's done the rounds of all my friends that want to read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Super Model!, 10 Oct. 2011
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A fascinating insight into the life of Lizzie Siddal. She had initially worked in a hat shop,then became an artist's model for Walter Deverell. Then Lizzie became Dante Gabriel Rossetti's muse,girlfriend and ultimately his wife. Lizzie's life was mostly quite tragic, she suffered from a mystery illness which plagued her for most of her life. She never felt as though she was in a secure relationship with Rossetti due to his philandering ways. It is possible that her paranoia was exacerbated by her addiction to Laudanum. However she was an artist and poet in her own right.

Siddal was also the most famous of the female models of the Pre-Raphaelites. For those who have a prolific interest in reading about the Pre-raphaelites, this book is to be recommended. It is listed under the Biography/Art History section.She was unique in appearance to the era in which she lived, in that she was tall and very thin with the crowning glory of copper red hair. Her colour of hair was not always favourably looked upon in Victorian times, but she managed to cut through this barrier of silly superstition.Lucinda Hawksley has conducted excellent research in this book, it also contains some colour plates of some Pre-Raphaelite art. Very reasonably priced and a good read between university studies, for those who enjoy quality reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lizzi Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel, 13 Jan. 2011
This review is from: Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel (Hardcover)
If you like a romantic tragedy, this is the book for you, as it reads like a novel, which makes it very easy and enjoyable to read.
As you learn about Lizzie's sad life and her often manipulative ways, you also learn a lot about Dante Gabrielle Rossetti who features very heavily as he was her main interest throughout most of her adult life. You will see how the two couldn't seem to be without each other but also couldn't seem to really make each other happy, ending eventually in tragedy. Throughout the book you also learn about other members of the PRB and how their lives intertwined and about their need to take their art further. This book leaves me wondering whether I would have actually liked Lizzie or just felt sorry for her, but certainly I have enjoyed learning about her.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life imitates art, 11 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel (Hardcover)
Lizzie Sidal was the model for John Everett Millais' 'Orphelia' and her striking looks were immortalised in many other PRB paintings by several different artists. She was discovered working in a fashionable milliners shop at a time when working as an artist's model was a dubious pursuit for a young lady. As well as posing for all of the prime movers in the Brotherhood she also wrote and painted in her own right.

The book is essentially the story of Lizzie's relationship with Dante Gabrielle Rossetti who worshipped her as a muse while 'stringing her along' as regards to marriage. He seemed content to keep her as a girlfriend in an age when marriage was everything for a woman and life expectancy much shorter than today. Rossetti's motives for delaying marriage appear to have been complex but chief among them seems to have been fear of parental disapproval of the match. Also, Lizzie was not the only woman in his life; a further complicating factor. Lucinda Hawksley is an excellent guide throughout and she chronicles Lizzie Sidal's mental and physical decline through a combination of emotional neglect, miscarriage, eating disorders and perhaps most significantly of all, Laudanum addiction.

This was an excellent (although terribly sad) book about the real woman behind some of the nineteenth century's most famous paintings. Being feted as a muse appears to come at a high price and I'd recommend the book to anyone interested in the life of one of the genuine icons of the Victorian age.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lizzie Siddal - Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel, 3 Nov. 2004
By A Customer
I couldn't put this book down. I usually find historical books tedious, not this one; this one appears aimed at everyone, not just the 'art history world'. The descriptions really painted pictures of the people and the artwork featured, I now want to see more of these for myself. I feel I have learnt much, whilst enjoying a wonderful biography.
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Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel
Lizzie Siddal: The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel by Lucinda Hawksley (Hardcover - 6 Oct. 2008)
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