Category Archives: Event

Contribute to London and Southern Group Book Club voting list

The London and Southern Group Book Club invites all PRS members to contribute to our book list. Each meeting, members vote for their favourite books from the list, to determine the book for the next club meeting. All PRS members an prospective members are welcome to attend the books club meetings, which are held on evenings and weekends throughout the year in central London. Best of all it is FREE!

We encourage you to email Madeleine, the London and Southern Group coordinator, at with your favourite Pre-Raphaelite fiction and non-fiction works.

The books for 2015 were Stunner: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth by Kirsty Stonell Walker, Rossetti’s Wombat: Pre-Raphaelites and Australian Animals in Victorian London by John Simons, and A Circle of Sisters by Judith Flanders . For 2016 we had Jan Marsh’s The Legend of Elizabeth Siddal and coming up Thursday 16 June  Angel with Bright Hair by Paula Batchelor.

Our current list is below, with Amazon links:

Violet: The Story of the Irrepressible Violet Hunt and Her Circle by Barbara Belford– “Drawing on newly discovered diaries and other papers in which the intrigues of the drawing room, ballroom, and bedroom are meticulously described, Barbara Belford has written an absorbing biography of a fascinating, strong-willed woman who lived years ahead of her time.”
Possession by A. S. Byatt– “Possession is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets.”
The Last Pre-Raphaelite: Edward Burne-Jones and the Victorian Imagination by Fiona MacCarthy- “The most admired British artist of his generation, he was a leading figure with Oscar Wilde in the aesthetic movement of the 1880s, inventing what became a widespread ‘Burne-Jones look’. The bridge between Victorian and modern art, he influenced not just his immediate circle but artists such as Klimt and Picasso.”
The Rossettis in Wonderland by Dinah Roe- “The exiled Italian poet Gabriele Rossetti arrived in London in 1824 with a few letters of introduction, little money and less English. But within one generation, he would bequeath his new city with a remark- able cultural legacy through the accomplishments of his children. There was the poet and Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel, the poet and religious thinker Christina, the nun and Dante Alighieri scholar Maria, and William, who combined a life of English letters with a successful career in finance.”
My Grandfather, His Wives and Loves by Diana Holman-Hunt- “This is the story of the first fifty years of Holman-Hunt’s private life[…]”
The Renaissance Studies in Art and Poetry by Walter Pater- “Walter Pater is increasingly being referred to by modern critics as an important precursor of modernist aesthetic theory. His study, The Renaissance, was also very influential in its own day, particularly on the work of Oscar Wilde who described it as ‘my golden book…the very flower of decadence'”
Into The Frame: The Four Loves of Ford Madox Brown by Angela Thirlwell- “Madox Brown, who grew up in France and Belgium before he came to England and won fame with paintings like ‘The Last of England’, was always an outsider, and the women he loved also burst out of stereotypes. His two wives, Elisabeth Bromley and Emma Hill, and his secret passions, the artist Marie Spartali and the author Mathilde Blind, were all remarkable personalities, from very different backgrounds.”
A Pre-Raphaelite Journey: The Art of Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale by Pamela Gerrish Nunn- “Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale (1872-1945) was an accomplished painter, illustrator and designer whose artistic life bridged the Victorian and modern worlds. Her work was much influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite artists whose love of detail, colour, symbolism, storytelling and nature was so hugely influential on mid Victorian Britain.”
Mortal Love by Elizabeth Hand– “In the Victorian Age, a mysterious and irresistible woman becomes entwined in the lives of several artists, both as a muse and as the object of all-consuming obsession. Radborne Comstock, one of the early twentieth century’s most brilliant young painters, is helpless under her dangerous spell. In modern-day London, journalist Daniel Rowlands meets a beguiling woman who holds the secret to invaluable — and lost — Pre-Raphaelite paintings, while wealthy dilettante-actor Valentine Comstock is consumed by enigmatic visions.”
Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers- “Adelaide McKee, a former prostitute, arrives on the doorstep of veterinary doctor John Crawford, a man she met once seven years earlier and the father of her only child, long presumed dead. She has recently learned that the girl lives – but her life and soul are sought by a ghostly vampire. And this is no ordinary spirit; the bloodthirsty wraith is that of John Polidori, Lord Byron’s doctor…”
Desperate Romantics: The Private Lives Of The Pre Raphaelites by Franny Moyle- “Their Bohemian lifestyle and intertwined love affairs shockingly broke 19th Century class barriers and bent the rules that governed the roles of the sexes. 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. The saga is brought to life through the vivid letters and diaries kept by the group and the accounts written by their contemporaries.”
Pre-Raphaelites in Love by Gay Daly- “A portrait of the Pre-Raphaelites and the women they loved and painted. It describes the scandals, betrayed lovers, secret dalliances, endless engagements, stormy marriages and suicides that affected this group.”
Lizzie Siddal by Lucinda Hawksley- “Saved from the drudgery of a working-class existence by a young Pre-Raphaelite artist, Lizzie Siddal rose to become one of the most famous faces in Victorian Britain and a pivotal figure of London’s artistic world, until tragically ending her young life in a laudanum-soaked suicide in 1862.”
The Dreaming Damozel by Mollie Hardwick- “This is the sixth murder mystery to involve the Abbotsbourne ex-vicar and wife team of crime solvers, Doran and Rodney Chelmarsh. The novel begins with the discovery of a corpse floating in the river like the drowned Ophelia.”
Sleep, Pale Sister by Joanne Harris- Sleep, Pale Sister, a powerful, atmospheric and blackly gothic evocation of Victorian artistic life, was originally published before Joanne Harris achieved worldwide recognition with Chocolat. Henry Chester, a domineering and puritanical Victorian artist, is in search of the perfect model. In nine-year-old Effie he finds her. Ten years later, lovely, childlike and sedated, Effie seems the ideal wife. But something inside her is about to awaken.”
The Stones of Venice by John Ruskin- “John Ruskin, Victorian England’s greatest writer on art and literature, believed himself an adopted son of Venice, and his feelings for this city are exquisitely expressed in The Stones of Venice. This edition contains Ruskin’s famous essay “The Nature of Gothic,” a marvelously descriptive tour of Venice before its postwar restoration.”
Ivy by Julie Hearn- “The only beautiful thing in Ivy’s drab life is her glorious red hair. At a young age, her locks made her the target of Carroty Kate, a ‘skinner’. She recruited Ivy to help her coax wealthy children away from their nannies so that she could strip them of their clothes – clothes worth a fortune in the markets of Petticoat Lane. It is years before Ivy escapes and finds her way back to her in-laws. Once there, she finds respite in laudanum. But before she can settle into a stupor and forget the terrible things she has done, Ivy is spotted by a wealthy pre-Raphaelite painter. ”
Pre-Raphaelites at Home by Pamela Todd- “Pamela Todd turns her attention to the fiery group of young artists, designers and thinkers, led by the charismatic figure of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, which, in 1848, came together as the semi-secret Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.”
Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais by Suzanne Fagence Cooper- “The scandalous love triangle at the heart of the Victorian art world. Effie Gray, a Scottish beauty, was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Married at nineteen to John Ruskin, she found herself trapped in a loveless and unconsummated union. When her husband invited his protégé John Everett Millais away on holiday, Effie and Millais fell in love.”
Victorian Poetry: Poetry, Poets and Politics by Isobel Armstrong- “In a comprehensive and theoretically astute study, Armstrong rescues Victorian poetry from its images as a `moralised form of romantic verse’ and unearths its often subversive critique of nineteenth-century culture and politics.”
The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin by Dinah Roe- “The Pre-Raphaelite Movement began in 1848, and experienced its heyday in the 1860s and 1870s. Influenced by the then little-known Keats and Blake, as well as Wordsworth, Shelley and Coleridge, Pre-Raphaelite poetry ‘etherialized sensation’ (in the words of Antony Harrison), and popularized the notion ofl’art pour l’art – art for art’s sake.”

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March Lecture: ‘Anatomiless And Rigid’: Pre-Raphaelitism, Drawing And The Decorative Arts by Dr. Jim Cheshire

A lecture by Dr. Jim Cheshire entitled ‘Anatomiless And Rigid: Pre-Raphaelitism, Drawing And The Decorative Arts’ will take place on the 21st of March at 11am at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham. Reception from 10.30 a.m. in the John Peek Conference Room.

John Ruskin’s awkward neologism from his seminal chapter ‘The Nature of Gothic’ invokes one of the central dilemmas of the Victorian Gothic revival. He describes the figures of ‘the old cathedral front’ as ‘anatomiless’ (lacking correct anatomy) and in doing so engages with a current debate about the nature of medieval figure work and its relationship to contemporary art. In England the widespread and deeply felt enthusiasm for medieval art was tempered by a conviction that medieval drawing was crude grotesque or just wrong. This left artist’s with a problem: how could their drawing be Gothic in spirit and yet avoid the perceived errors of medieval art? Pre-Raphaelite drawing provided one response to this problem, as did various types of figure work in stained glass, furniture and textiles. This lecture will examine the problem of Gothic figure work in Victorian Britain and how Pre-Raphaelite artists explored this through fine and decorative art.

Dr. Jim Cheshire is Reader in Cultural History at the University of Lincoln. His researchcentres on Victorian attitudes to the medieval period in literary and visual culture. He is currently working on a monograph about Tennyson’s relationship with his publishers in the mid Victorian period and has previously published books and articles on stained glass, 19th century interior design and book illustration.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑

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February Lecture: ‘The Eye Rejoyces: Pre-Raphaelitism at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth’ by Duncan Walker

A lecture by Duncan Walker entitled ‘The Eye Rejoyces: Pre-Raphaelitism at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Bournemouth’ will take place on the 28th of February at 11am at the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham. Reception from 10.30 a.m. in the John Peek Conference Room.

The lecture will cover the Founders of the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, their establishment of the museum, Sir Merton Russell-Cotes’ views of Pre-Raphaelitism and the Pre-Raphaelite works in the collections.

Duncan Walker currently works as Curator at the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in Bournemouth, which although famous for its 19th century collection, holds works spanning 700 years. He has over 20 years’ experience working in museums, previously working as Registrar at Portsmouth City Museum. His area of specialisation includes the works of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑

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Emery Walker House and Kelmscott House Visit May 3rd

The London and Southern group is arranging an exclusive private tour of Emery Walker House and Kelmscott House. Emery Walker and William Morris had a close friendship and working relationship; during the tours we will hear more about them, the houses, and their lives in Hammersmith.

The tours of both houses will last around 2.30 hours; each house tour is an hour, with a 10min walk in between, and includes time for gift shop and questions. In the Emery Walker Trust we can see the last authentic Arts & Crafts interior in the UK. The Kelmscott House tour comprises of the coach house and basement – as the main house is privately owned. This is an excellent chance to see Emery Walker House before it closes for essential repairs later in 2015. We will see unique objects of interest from the collection, such as original wallpapers, designs, objects and papers. Refreshments will be provided at Kelmscott House.

The tour is set at 8 people, but if there is high demand we will be able to do two groups of 8, (splitting the group in two and visiting each house simultaneously at 2pm and 3pm respectively). Full groups of 8 are required to run the tours, so please book early. We will meet at the entrance of 7 Hammersmith Terrace and Madeleine will contact you ahead of time if group assignments are needed.

If you are interested, please contact Madeleine Pearce, the London and Southern Group coordinator, ( This event is open to all PRS members, but please note actual bookings can only be completed with the postal leaflet from the PRS mailing and yoour cheque.

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New Regional Groups: South West of England and North of England

Following the success of the first meeting of the London & Southern Group, and with further meetings being planned, the Pre‑Raphaelite Society is pleased to announce the formation of another new regional group, to accommodate members in the South West of England. The group will be co-ordinated by Peter Wise, a current member of the Pre‑Raphaelite Society and author of several Pre‑Raphaelite trail books.

We also have had members express an interest in joining a Northern group but we need someone willing to organise the events, activities etc. Assistance from the Secretary will be available.

The groups will be a chance for current Society members to gather in a relaxed and casual atmosphere to socialise and enjoy activities such as pub meets, a book club, local visits and activities and will be open to all PRS members and their friends.

If you are interested, please contact Sharon Peedell-Pandya, PRS Secretary, ( or Peter Wise, ( for more details.


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Lecture: ‘Painters’ Palaces: Frederic Leighton and the Holland Park Circle’ by Daniel Robbins

A lecture by Daniel Robbins entitled ‘Painters’ Palaces: Frederic Leighton and the Holland Park Circle’ will take place on the 22nd of November at 11am in the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham.

Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830‑1896) was the doyen of Victorian academic painters, President of the Royal Academy and the only British artist to date to have been raised to the peerage. From 1864 he collaborated with the architect George Atchison to create one of the most remarkable artists’ studio-houses anywhere at 2 Holland Park Road, Kensington. Daniel Robbins tells the story of the house, and the magnificent recently completed refurbishment.

Daniel Robbins is Senior Curator of Museums with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, responsible for Leighton House Museum and 18 Stafford Terrace. He has organised many exhibitions and contributed to numerous catalogues and publications around nineteenth‑century art, architecture and design, including authorship of the companion guidebook to Leighton House published in 2011. He was responsible for leading the project to refurbish and restore the museum completed between 2008 and 2010.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑

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Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture by Dr. John Holmes – ‘In Search of Pre‑Raphaelite Architecture’

The Annual General Meeting and Founder’s Day lecture entitled ‘In Search of Pre‑Raphaelite Architecture’ will be given by Dr. John Holmes on the 25th of October. It will take place in the Birmingham & Midland Institute, Margaret Street, Birmingham.

In the 1850’s the architect G. E. Street declared a common cause between the Pre‑Raphaelites and the Gothic Revival. It is easy to see a superficial parallel between the two movements. Both looked to medieval art for their models, and both drew support from the powerful prose of John Ruskin. But the bond between them goes far deeper than this. Street argued that public architecture should be a representational art in which the plan, forms and decoration of a building would embody its purpose and meaning. Like other Pre‑Raphaelite art‑forms, Pre‑Raphaelite architecture would be at once true to nature in its details and profoundly symbolic in its forms. The first building to be constructed on these new principles was the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. The architect Benjamin Woodward consulted with Ruskin and Rossetti on its design and commissioned the Pre‑Raphaelite sculptors Thomas Woolner, Alexander Munro and John Lucas Tupper to carve statues of scientists to surround its central court, while the leading scientists on the project Henry Acland and John Phillips expressly identified the Pre‑Raphaelites as their model in the scrupulous truth to nature of its decorative carvings. The result is the first Pre‑Raphaelite public building, a magnificent collaborative work of art expressing mid‑Victorian concepts of science and nature. As the century unfolded, so Street’s Pre‑Raphaelite ideal of architecture was realised in a number of major public buildings in Victorian England, including his own Law Courts and the Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum, both built by Alfred Waterhouse, the most fashionable and prosperous of the high Victorian architects.

Dr. John Holmes is an Associate Professor in English Literature at the University of Reading, the Co‑Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into the Humanities and Science, and the Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science. He is the author of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Late Victorian Sonnet Sequence (2005) and Darwin’s Bards: British and American Poetry in the Age of Evolution (2009; paperback 2013). He has recently held an AHRC research fellowship to work on the Pre-Raphaelites and science, and is currently writing a book based on his research.

For further details relating to the event mentioned above please email info@Pre‑

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