In the twenty-first century, even those who do not know Lizzie Siddal' s name will recognize her face: she is Millais' s doomed Ophelia and Rossetti' s beatified Beatrice in two of the nineteenth century' s most famous paintings. As Lucinda Hawksley explores in Lizzie Siddal, Face of the Pre-Raphaelites, Siddal' s fame was a remarkable phenomenon: in a time when she was the opposite of the Victorian beauty (she was red-haired, quite tall, and painfully thin), she nonetheless scaled the social ranks to become the unlikely ideal.
A pivotal figure in London' s artistic world of the mid-nineteenth century, Lizzie' s short life ended in a delirium of opium. In this, the first full work devoted solely to Lizzie-- her austere beginnings, quick rise to fame, and tragic end-- Hawksley brings together the worlds of art and literature with style and verve. Lizzie Siddal was not merely the Pre-Raphaelites' obsession and muse, she was a talented poet and artist in her own right. Her tragic and haunting life story serves as a cautionary tale, offering many parallels to the modern-day world of art, fashion, beauty, and our obsession with what we hold to be the ideal.