Pre-Raphaelites in The City: America

Dinah Roe

‘Wishiwasha’: Longfellow’s Adventures in Pre-Raphaelite London

In 1868, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited England, where he was feted by the great and the good. America’s premiere poet received honourary degrees from Oxford and Cambridge and even called on Queen Victoria. Julia Margaret Cameron (close friend to the Pre-Raphaelites) took his portrait, portraying him as every inch the poet-sage. The dramatic profile portrait, with its emphasis on his flowing white beard and veritable mane of hair, presents him as the embodiment of a literary lion.

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American Gothic: Part II

William Rossetti noted that Boston-born Edgar Allan Poe’s work continued to provide ‘a deep well of delight’ to his brother Gabriel all his life. Throughout his career, Gabriel Rossetti was drawn to the disturbing notion in Poe’s essay ‘The Philosophy of Composition’ that ‘The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.’ During 1846-47, Gabriel decided to write a sequal to Poe’s ‘The Raven’, and ended up producing his most famous poem, ‘The Blessed Damozel’.

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Pre-Raphaelites in the City

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This blog explores the thriving Victorian cities which inspired the Pre-Raphaelites, and were shaped by them in turn. While the Pre-Raphaelites produced poetry and art praising the natural world, most were born and raised in urban environments, and their work retained a cosmopolitan sensibility. Although this blog will sometimes take excursions into the countryside, its focus will remain on city life. If you want more information on images or sources, please get in touch.