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  • John Murray
  • John Murray

Desperate Romantics

Franny Moyle

8 Reviews

Rated 0

c 1800 to c 1900, History of art / art & design styles, Art & design styles: Pre-Raphaelite art, Memoirs, Prose: non-fiction, History

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. These real-lie stories shed new light on the greatest nineteenth-century British art.

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Praise for Desperate Romantics

  • 'The jauntiness of her approach is a refreshing antidote to the incestuous, dreamlike claustrophobia of these interlocking lives. Her book is powerful, absorbing and, well, rather jolly' - Sunday Times

  • 'The age of the Romantics is alive and well in this fascinating book that accompanies the BBC series of the same name' - Tatler

  • 'Read about the truth behind John and Effie Ruskin's unconsummated marriage . . . and a host of other seemingly respectable 'Blue Plaque' names who lived their lives at a pace that would leave Damien Hirst and Jake and Dinos Chapman breathless' - The Resident

  • Sir John Ure is absorbed by an account of the Pre-Raphaelites . . . Franny Moyle [is] a scholarly and highly entertaining chronicler of their unruly exploits - Sir John Ure, Country Life

  • 'Moyle's book captures all the sex, madness and addiction, making modern-day sagas seem downright dull!' - Glamour

  • 'This has been well-covered before but she retells it with exceptional vigour and with fine detail culled from original sources' - Daily Express

  • The book is packed with colourful illustrations and drawings, while the words are pretty darned colourful too' - Birmingham Post

  • 'Moyle tells the story with great verve, and the forthcoming drama based on her book should be one to look out for' - Choice

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Franny Moyle

Franny Moyle has a degree in English and History of Art from St John's College, Cambridge. She enjoyed a career in arts programming at the BBC that culminated in her becoming the corporation's first Commissioner for Arts and Culture. She is now a freelance executive producer and writer as well as a director of the Hackney Empire, which is near her home in East London. She is married and has three children.

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