Desperate Romantics

The Private Lives of the Pre-Raphaelites

written by Franny Moyle

John Murray | ISBN 9781848540507

Paperback – 432 pages


Member’s price: $24.30

In conjunction with a major series for BBC2, this work presents the scandalous saga of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. Their Bohemian lifestyle and intertwined love affairs shockingly broke 19th Century class barriers and bent the rules that governed the roles of the sexes. They became defined by love triangles, played out 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. The characters are huge and vivid and remain as compelling today as they were in their own time. 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 for its social audacity, they recruited the most ravishing models they could find from the gutters of Victorian slums. The saga is brought to life through the vivid letters and diaries kept by the group and the accounts written by their contemporaries. The Pre-Raphaelites were the infamous, bad-boy celebrities of the late Victorian era and this book shows they are as compelling today as they were then. It brings together class, sexuality and morality in a scandalous saga.