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2nd Edition Better than Ever,
This review is from: Stunner: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth (Paperback)
This, the new, 2nd edition of 'Stunner' is every bit as valuable a contribution to our understanding of the Pre-Raphaelite circle of poets and artists of the 19th Century as the previous version from way back in 2006, but with the addition this time of a lovely cover and greatly improved readability all round, including new discoveries, fresh material, and extended commentary.
The book and its wealth of original research focuses on the life of one particularly interesting Victorian individual, Sarah Cox (born most-likely1835 - c. 1906) who came from rural Sussex but who moved to London when young and where she encountered the Pre-Raphaelite painter D.G.Rossetti. At around this time she altered her name to that by which posterity has come to know her: Fanny Cornforth. She became one of Rossetti's celebrated flame-hair models and has been immortalised in a number of paintings, pastel drawings and sketches. Rossetti, as is widely known, had several female models, and probably quite a few mistresses among them. What is perhaps not so well-known, and what I certainly did not realise, was that Fanny became such a significant and long-lasting player upon the Rossetti stage. She remained, on and off, his mistress and model for most of his working life, spanning a period of decades, right up until his death in 1882.
As the first proper, full-length assessment of Fanny Cornforth, this is a `must read' for enthusiasts of the Pre-Raphaelite universe or anybody interested in Victorian art. It urges us to think again and revise our views on a beautiful but perhaps misunderstood woman who transcended so many of the accepted rules of Victorian society, who made the best of her assets and became a survivor in a harsh world. We should surely not reproach Fanny for that - in fact, quite the contrary - and in the author Kirsty Stonell Walker she has found an eloquent and worthy champion.