Effie: A Victorian Scandal - From Ruskin's Wife to Millais's Muse

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9781846244186: Effie: A Victorian Scandal - From Ruskin's Wife to Millais's Muse
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The true story behind Desperate Romantics

Victorian scandals don't come much more intimate and revealing than a wife seeking an annulment from her famous husband because their marriage has not been consummated. When Effie Ruskin sought escape from her desperately unhappy life with art critic John Ruskin, she shattered the Victorian illusion of the perfect marriage. That she could then dare to hope for respectability and even happiness as the wife of artist John Everett Millais fuelled a scandal that was to reverberate around Victorian society for years to come.

Ruskin, Millais and Effie were exposed to the kind of gossip today's wannabe celebrities can only dream of. Effie was regarded as mentally ill, immoral and certainly tainted - Queen Victoria initially refused to receive her - while Ruskin was seen either as noble and virtuous or deranged and impotent. Ruskin was repelled by Effie's body; Millais used her as a model in some of his greatest paintings. Millais went on to become one of Britain s most popular painters, but the stigma of his wife's past would never be forgotten.

From the heart of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood comes a story as fascinating today as it was shocking in the 1850s.

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About the Author:

Merryn Williams read English at New Hall, Cambridge and obtained her doctorate from Darwin College for her work on Thomas Hardy. Formerly a lecturer at the Open University, she is now editor of The Interpreter's House, a national poetry and short story journal. Her published critical works include Women in the English Novel, 1800-1900 (Macmillan, 1984), Six Women Novelists (Macmillan, 1987), Preface to Hardy (Longman, 1993) and Wilfred Owen (Seren, 1993). She has published three volumes of poetry and was winner of the Second Light Network Poetry Competition 2003, judged by Elaine Feinstein. A new anthology of her poetry, The Georgians 1901-1930, will be published by Shoestring Press in 2010. Merryn William lives in Oxford.

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