“I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied.”
Julia Margaret Cameron
11 Jun 1815 – 26 Jan 1879
The quote above is from quite a remarkable lady that was a huge inspiration for the third novel in my Rossetti Mysteries series:The Girl in the Photograph. That novel is out in ebook format today, to coincide with the paperback release of the second in the series, The Girl in the Painting.
Julia Margaret Cameron was a British photographer who became known for her portraits of celebrities and for her photographs covering legendary, heroic themes, like Arthurian legends. She took up photography at the age of 48 in 1864 and continued for eleven years. As much as we love her pictures now, Cameron’s style was sniffed at a little during her lifetime, and her photographs were, incredibly, viewed as slovenly mistakes and bad photography! She favoured soft-focus, manipulating a process called ‘wet collodion’ and inspiring photographers and artists to this day. Cameron, you see, viewed photography as ‘art’ and her work was embraced by the Pre-Raphaelite artists that haunt the pages of my previous two novels, Some Veil Did Fall and The Girl in the Painting.
When I came to write a third novel in the Rossetti Mysteries Series, I knew that photography had to play a huge part in it – it was a natural progression as well, considering we had covered poetry and painting in the first two books – and as time marches on, as my characters grew and developed over the books, so the world of Pre-Raphaelite art was growing. What was better, therefore, than to concentrate on a photographer and a girl who couldn’t quite let the past go?
Lissy, who you might know from the first two books, demanded that this book should be about her – her and Stefano, the man she was desperately in love with so many years ago; Stefano, a photographer, who sweeps back into her life with all his Italian passion and wants her back. It’s time for them both to let the past go, and face the future. And of course, as the book is a timeslip, we also trace the story of Julian and Lorelei from 1905. Too late, it seems, for Lorelei to achieve her ambition of modelling for Cameron. But Sea Scarr Hall, where Lissy is holidaying, holds its own secrets and things have a strange way of playing out, if you’re only in the right place at the right time…
I have a feeling my Rossetti characters will crop up here and there in the future – and if that’s the case, I hope you’ll be happy to welcome them back into your lives; and I also hope that you enjoy Lissy’s story in The Girl in the Photograph as much as I enjoyed writing it!