Desperate Romantics

Desperate Romantics
Published by John Murray on 8th January 2009

The Pre-Raphaelite artists were the infamous, bad-boy celebrities of the late Victorian era. Their bohemian lifestyle crossed nineteenth-century barriers of class and shockingly 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. They drew extraordinary women into their circle. In a move intended to raise eyebrows, they recruited the most ravishing models they could from the gutters of the Victorian slums.

The group became defined for their iconic masterpieces and their complex love-triangles, both of which revolted 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. These charismatic characters remain as compelling today as they were in their time.

Drawing on their own vivid letters and confessional diaries, Desperate Romantics brings to life these reluctant Victorians, and sheds new light on a sensational body of art.