Remarkably, there has been only one biography of Ford Madox Brown in the past century and none at all of the four women in his life, his two wives, Elisabeth Bromley and Emma Hill, and his secret passions, the artist Marie Spartali and the author Mathilde Blind. All four were remarkable women, from very different backgrounds, striving for self-expression in an age that sought to suppress them. Madox Brown himself was always an outsider and refused to join any group even the Pre-Raphaelites with whom he was so closely associated, and the women he loved burst out of received stereotypes, telling us much about women s journey towards modern roles. Elisabeth Bromley was born in 1818, the year Mary Shelley published Frankenstein- Marie Spartali died in 1927, a year before all women won the vote. Their lives full of passion, sexual longing, tragedy and determination take us from the English countryside and the artist s studio, to a Europe in turmoil and revolution. These are not silent muses hidden in the shadow of the Master . They step out of the shadows and into the picture, speaking with voices we can hear and understand. Romantic and illuminating, richly illustrated thro
Angela Thirlwell read English at Oxford and lectured at Birkbeck College, University of London until 1999. Her books include the Folio Anthology of Autobiography (1994), The Pre-Raphaelites and their World (editor, 1995) and William and Lucy- The Other Rossettis (Yale, 2003).