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The Life and Letters of William Sharp and “Fiona Macleod”. Volume 1

William Sharp
Fiona Macleod

Chapter One

Texte intégral

Life: 1855–1881

  • 1 Most of what is known about William Sharp’s early life is contained in William Sharp (Fiona Macleo (...)

1William Sharp was born on September 12, 1855, at 4 Garthland Place in Paisley, Scotland.1 He was the oldest in a family of five daughters and three sons. His father, David Galbreath Sharp, was a partner in a mercantile house, and his mother, Katherine Brooks, was the daughter of the Swedish Vice Consul at Glasgow. Sharp spent the summers of his childhood in the West country – on the shores of the Clyde, the sea coast, and the Isle of Arran. He swam, rowed, sailed, and cultivated the passionate love of nature he inherited from his father. His Highland nurse, Barbara, told him tales of fairies, Celtic heroes, and Highland chieftains. These stories and the old Gaelic songs seeded his imagination with materials that came to fruition years later when he began writing the tales and poems he published under the pseudonym “Fiona Macleod.” Fanciful as a child, Sharp often imagined himself a marauding Viking or a brave warrior. He developed early the sense of an invisible world and communicated freely with “invisible playmates, visible to him.” The God he heard about in church was “remote and forbidding,” but in the woods of the Inner Hebrides “he felt there was some great power behind the beauty.” The “sense of the Infinite touched him there.” When he was six, “he built a little altar of stones, […] and on it he laid white flowers in offering” to a benign and beautiful Presence who ruled the natural world (Memoir 6).

2In 1863, when he was seven, his aunt brought her three children from London to spend some time with the Paisley Sharps who had rented a house for the summer at Blairmore on the Gare Loch in western Scotland. One of those children was Elizabeth Amelia Sharp. Years later she recalled her cousin William, who would eventually be her husband, as “a merry, mischievous little boy […] with bright brown curly hair, blue-gray eyes, and a laughing face […] eager, active in his endless invention of games and occupations” (Memoir 8). Until he was eight, he was educated at home by a governess. In the fall of 1863, he was sent to Blair Lodge, a boarding school in Polmont Woods between Falkirk and Linlithgow. Four years later, the Sharps moved from Paisley to Glasgow and enrolled William as a day student at Glasgow Academy. In the summer of 1871, when he was 15, Sharp developed a severe case of typhoid fever and was sent to the West Highlands to recover. There he formed a friendship with Seumas Macleod, an elderly fisherman whose tales and beliefs found their way into the stories and poems he began publishing in the 1890s as the work of another Macleod whose first name, Fiona, was an abbreviation of Fionnaghal, the Gaelic equivalent of Flora. In the fall of 1871, at age sixteen, he entered Glasgow University. An eager and perceptive student, he excelled in English literature, which he studied under Professor John Nichol who became a close friend.

3His most memorable summer was his eighteenth. Wandering near the Gare Loch close to Ardentinny, he encountered and joined a band of gypsies. Without explaining his absence or communicating his whereabouts, he roamed with them for weeks. With his light brown hair, he became their “sun-brother,” and he absorbed much of their birdlore and wood-lore and the beliefs they derived from the patterns of the stars and the winds. This magical experience, free and unconventional, informed his later publications, especially Children of Tomorrow, The Gypsy Christ, and Green Fire. Understandably his parents were distressed upon learning their he had “gone with gypsies.” When they located him, he relented and returned in the fall of 1872 to his classes at Glasgow University. Worried about his dreaming nature and interest in literature, his father at the close of the 1872–73 academic year placed him in the Glasgow law office of Messrs. Maclure and Hanney with the hope he might take to the legal profession. Though he did not continue towards a degree, he was found “worthy of special commendation” at the end of his second year. He had taken full advantage of the University’s library, and at night during his two years as a legal apprentice he continued to “read omnivorously,” according to Elizabeth, in “literature, philosophy, poetry, mysticism, occultism, magic, mythology, folklore.” He developed “a sense of brotherhood with psychics and seers of other lands and days.” His reading precipitated a radical shift from the Presbyterian faith in which he was raised toward a belief in the unity of the truths underlying all religions (Memoir 15).

4Sharp’s second meeting with Elizabeth took place when he spent a week with his cousins at Dunoon on the Clyde in August 1875. Of that occasion, she wrote, “I remember vividly the impression he made on me when I saw the tall, thin figure pass through our garden gateway at sunset – he had come down by the evening steamer from Glasgow – and stride swiftly up the path. He was six feet one inch in height, very thin, with slightly sloping shoulders. He was good looking, with a fair complexion and high coloring; gray-blue eyes, brown hair closely cut, a sensitive mouth, and a winning smile. He looked delicate but full of vitality. He spoke very rapidly, and when excited his words seemed to tumble one over the other so that it was not always easy to understand him” (Memoir 17).

5After a month in the West, Elizabeth and her sister visited the Glasgow Sharps in September, and before the end of the month, as Elizabeth recalled, she and William, both twenty years old and first cousins, “were secretly plighted to one another.” They managed to spend a day together secretly in Edinburgh’s Dean Cemetery where William confided “his true ambition lay not in being a scientific man, but a poet, that his desire was to write about Mother Nature and her inner mysteries.” As Elizabeth recalled, “We talked and talked – about his ambitions, his beliefs and visions, our hopeless prospects, the coming lonely months, my studies – and parted in deep dejection,” as they had no hope of seeing each other again until the next fall. After returning to London, Elizabeth received some of her fiancé’s early poems, among them “In Dean Cemetery,” a “pantheistic dream in fifty–seven stanzas” commemorating their day together. Elizabeth recalled receiving many more poems as the year proceeded, and commented: “The reason why he chose such serious types of poems to dedicate to the girl to whom he was engaged was that she was the first friend he had found who to some extent understood him, understood the inner hidden side of his nature, sympathized with and believed in his visions, dreams, and aims.” That sentence is a revealing description of the foundation of their marriage which occurred several years later and lasted until Sharp died in 1905 at the age of fifty-five.

6In August 1876, a year later, the two Sharp families rented houses next to each other in Dunoon which enabled Elizabeth and William to spend many happy days together “rambling over the hills, boating and sailing on the lochs, in talking over our very vague prospects, in reading and discussing his poems.” The families’ holiday was brought to an abrupt and unhappy end on August 20 by the untimely death of William’s father, an event that was a great shock to William who soon suffered a physical breakdown that raised the danger of consumption. Hoping a complete change of environment might improve his health and spirits, his family arranged passage for him on a ship bound for Australia. He relished the experiences of the voyage and the new country, where he stayed with family friends and spent many days exploring Gippsland and the desert region of New South Wales. He decided to settle in Australia and began looking for suitable work. When that search failed, he changed course and booked passage on the Loch Tay which reached London in June 1877.

7Before returning to Scotland, Sharp stayed for a time with Elizabeth and her parents at their house on Inverness Terrace just north of the Bayswater Road in London. This was his first experience of the city that would become his home. Elizabeth introduced him to her friends, among them Adelaide Elder and Mona Alison, who later married the Scottish Laird, Henryson Caird of Casseneary. Elizabeth’s mother enlisted the help and influence of her friends to find work for Sharp, but there was no immediate success. At summer’s end, he returned to Scotland, joining his mother at Moffat where she had taken a house, and he devoted himself through a lonely fall and winter to writing. Several poems composed during these months appeared in his first volume of poetry, The Human Inheritance, in 1882.

8Less than a year after returning from Australia, in the spring of 1878 when he was twenty-two, Sharp returned to London and began work at the London branch of the Melbourne Bank, a position secured for him by Alexander Elder, the father of Adelaide. He rented a room at 19 Albert’s Street near Regent’s Park and spent weekends with Elizabeth and her family at 72 Inverness Terrace, but their engagement remained secret. Despite an earlier decision to refrain from publishing “until he could do it properly,” Sharp became increasingly anxious to appear in print. He submitted a poem, “A Nocturne to Chopin,” to Good Words. It was accepted and published in July 1878. Late that summer, Elizabeth convinced him to end the secrecy, which he thoroughly enjoyed, and tell her mother they were engaged. When she realized her daughter was determined, she reluctantly approved, but warned others would disapprove because they were first cousins. “From that moment,” Elizabeth said, her mother “treated her nephew as her son” (Memoir 28).

9On the first of September 1879, William, with an introduction from Sir Noel Paton, the Scottish Pre-Raphaelite painter and a friend of the family, appeared at the door of the famous and aging poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Rossetti welcomed the handsome and enthusiastic young writer who became a frequent guest at 16 Cheyne Walk. Sharp soon gained acceptance into the circle of admiring friends who lightened the darkness of Rossetti’s final years. He came to know Algernon Swinburne, Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton), Hall Caine (another Rossetti acolyte), Robert Francillon, Julian Hawthorne, Rossetti’s brother and sister, William Michael and Christina, and Philip Marston, a promising young poet who was blind and became Sharp’s closest friend.

Fig. 1. Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1850 at age 22. A portrait by William Holman Hunt (c.1883), Wikimedia,​wiki/​File:William_Holman_Hunt_-_Portrait_of_Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_at_22_years_of_Age_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg, Public Domain.

Fig. 2. An albumen print of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Taken by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (1863), Wikimedia,​wiki/​File:Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_001.jpg, Public Domain.

10In the summer of 1880, Mrs. George Lillie Craik, author of John Halifax, Gentleman and Marston’s godmother, entertained Sharp and Marston several times at her home south of London in Kent. During one of those visits Sharp caught a severe cold after being drenched in a thunderstorm. Still ill, he went to Port Maddock in North Wales to visit Elizabeth and her mother who had rented a holiday cottage. There his cold descended into rheumatic fever which forced him to stay an entire month while Elizabeth and her mother nursed him back to health. The illness lasted through the fall and permanently damaged his heart. Despite her worry that Sharp – “weak and delicate” – would not take care of himself, Elizabeth accompanied her mother to Italy for the winter months. By mid-December Sharp was well enough to describe in a letter to Elizabeth a night he spent in a Covent Garden with Francillon, Hawthorne, and thirty or so other artists in the Oasis Club.

11In 1881 Sharp published several articles in Modern Thought and increased his contacts with the Rossetti circle. One consequence of his deeper literary involvement was an abrupt end to his banking career. In late August, the Principal of the City of Melbourne Bank offered him the alternative of employment in a remote branch in Australia or resignation. Sharp chose the latter and went to Scotland for two months to visit relatives and friends, among them William Bell Scott and Sir Noel Paton. When he returned to London he spent several weeks looking for another position and finally obtained a post with the Fine Arts Society’s Gallery in Bond Street. The Society had decided to establish a section on German and English engravings and hired Sharp, through the good offices of Mrs. Craik, to study the subject for six months and then become the section’s director. Shortly after he began work at the Gallery, the society reversed course and withdrew from the project. At year’s end, Sharp was again out of work.

12His trip to Australia, his persistent ill-health, his relationship with the woman who would become his wife, his determination to become a serious writer, and his lack of interest in banking or any other business or profession defined Sharp’s life into his mid-twenties. His prospects were dim at the close of 1881. But another factor turned the tide: the friends he made as a bright and dashing young Scotsman new on the London scene. Some came through Elizabeth, a young girl of means with a fine mind and a sound education. She had a group of similarly talented and knowledgeable friends who readily accepted Sharp into their lives, supported his ambitions, and encouraged his development. Others came through Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who in his final years fostered Sharp’s development as a poet, confided in him through long opium-fueled nights, and welcomed him into his circle of accomplished and respected painters, poets, and editors. They smoothed Sharp’s entry into the literary life of London where he would flourish and attain a position of prominence during the 1880s.

Letters: 1877–1881


13Braemar | August 21

  • 2 The first two letters, the earliest that survive and both only fragments, were written to Elizabet (...)
  • 3 This early poem has not survived.

14… I feel another self within me now more than ever; it is as if I were possessed by a spirit who must speak out.…2 I am in no hurry to rush into print; I do not wish to write publicly until I can do so properly. It would be a great mistake to embody my message in such a poem as ‘Uplands’,3 although a fifty times better poem than that is. People won’t be preached to. Truth can be inculcated far better by inference, by suggestion.… I am glad to see by your note you are in good spirits. I also now look on things in a different light; but, unfortunately, Lill, we poor mortals are more apt to be swayed by mood than by circumstances, and look on things through the mist of these moods.

15Memoir 25–26

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, Fall, [1877]

16… I am too worried about various things to settle to any kind of literary work in the meantime. The weather has been wretchedly wet, and the cold is intense. I do trust I shall get away from Scotland before the winter sets in, as I am much less able to stand it than I thought I was. Even with the strong air up here I can’t walk any distance without being much the worse for it.…

17Memoir 26

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, August 26, 1878


19… Thanks for your welcome note which I received a little ago. I, too, like you, was sitting at my open window last night (or rather this morning) with the stars for my companions: and I, too, took comfort from them and felt the peace hidden in their silent depths. I know of nothing that soothes the spirit more than looking on those awful skies at midnight. Some of our aspirations seem to have burnt into life there, and, tangled in some glory of starlight, to shine down upon us with beckoning hands.… I have told you before how that music, a beautiful line of poetry, and other cherished things of art so often bring you into close communion with myself. But there is one thing that does it infallibly and more than anything else: trees on a horizon, whether plain or upland, standing against a cloudless blue sky – more especially when there is a soft blue haze dimly palpitating between. Strange, is it not? I only half indefinitely myself know the cause of it. One cause certainly is the sense of music there is in that aspect – possibly also the fairness of an association so sympathetic with some gracious memory of the past.

20P. S. By-the-bye, have you noticed that my “Nocturne” is in the July number of Good Words?

21Memoir 28–29

To John Elder, [August, 1879]4

  • 4 John Elder was the brother of Adelaide Elder, one of E. A. S.’s closest friends. Their father, Ale (...)
  • 5 Probably “On Reverence,” which, according to Elizabeth Sharp’s bibliography, was published in The (...)

22I am glad you like my short paper in the Sectarian Review5 and I think that you understand my motive in writing it. It is no unreasoning reverence that I advocate, no “countenancing beliefs in worn-out superstitions”, as you say; no mercy to the erring, but much mercy to and sympathy with the deceived. I do not reverence the Bible or the Christian Theology in themselves, but for the beautiful spirituality which faintly but ever and again breathes through them, like a vague wind blowing through intricate forests; and so far I reverence the recognition of this spiritual breath in the worship of those whose views are so very different from my own….

  • 6 Ernest Belford Bax (1854–1926) was a barrister, author, musician, and philosopher Along with Willi (...)
  • 7 “Religion” appeared in The Examiner: A Sunday Paper on Politics, Literature, and Fine Arts (Septem (...)

23I have been writing a good deal lately – chiefly verse. There is one thing which I am sure will interest you: some time ago I wrote a sonnet called “Religion”, the drift of which was to show the futility of any of the great creeds as creeds, and two or three weeks ago showed it to my friend Mr. Belford Bax.6 It seems to have made considerable impression upon him, for, after what he calls “having absorbed”, he has set it to very beautiful recitative music. There are some fine chords in the composition, preluding the pathetic melody of the finale; and altogether it has given me great pleasure. But what specially interests me is that it is the first time (as far as I am aware) of a sonnet in any language having been set to music. The form of this kind of verse is of course antagonistic to song-music, and could only be rendered by recitative. Do you know of any instance having occurred? The sonnet in question will appear in The Examiner in a week or two,7

Lo, in a dream, I saw a vast dim sea
Whose sad waves broke upon a barren shore;
The name of this wan sea was Nevermore,
The land The Past, the shore Futility:
Thereon I spied three mighty Shadows; three
Weary and desolate Shades, of whom each wore
A crown whereon was writ Despair. To me
One spoke, and said, “Lo, I am He
In whom the countless millions of the East
Live, move, and hope. And all is vanity!” –
And I knew Buddha. Then the next: “The least
Am I, but once God’s mightiest Prophet-Priest” –
So spoke Mahomet. And then pitifully
The third Shade moaned, “I am of Galilee!”

24I also enclose the record of a vision I had lately:

Lo, in that Shadowy place wherein is found
The fruitage of the spirit men call dreams,
I wander’d. Ever underneath pale gleams
Of misty moonlight quivering all around
And ever by the banks of sedgy streams
Swishing thro’ fallen rushes with slow sound
A spirit walked beside me. From a mound,
Rustling from poplar-leaves from top to base,
Some bird I knew not shrilled a cry of dole,
So bitter, I cried out to God for grace.
Whereat he by me slackened from his pace,
Turning upon me in my cold amaze
And saying, “While the long years onward roll
Thou shalt be haunted by this hateful face – ”
And looking up, I looked on my own soul!

25Memoir 31–32

To John Elder, October, 1879

2619 Albert St., Regent’s Park | Oct., 1879

27My dear John,

28Thanks for your welcome letter of 18th August. My purpose, in my letter of May 7th, if I recollect rightly, was to urge that Reason is sometimes transcended by Emotion – sufficiently often, that is to say, to prevent philosophers from deriding the idea that a truth may be reached emotionally now and again, quicker than by the light of Reason. God may be beyond the veil of mortal life, but I cannot see that he has given us any definite revelation beyond what pure Deism teaches, viz., that there is a Power – certainly beneficent, most probably eternal, possibly (in effect, if not in detail) omnipotent – who, letting the breath of His being blow through all created things, evolves the Ascidian into man, and man into higher manifestations than are possible on earth, and whose message and revelation to man is shown forth in the myriad-paged volume of nature, and the inherent yearning in every human soul for something out of itself and yet of it. Of such belief, I may say that I am.

29But my mind is like a troubled sea, whereon the winds of doubt blow continually, with waves of dead hopes and religious beliefs washing far away behind, and nothing before but the weary seeming of phantasmal shores. At times this faith that I cherish comes down upon me like the hushful fall of snow-flakes, calming and soothing all into peace; and again, it may be, it appears as a dark thunder-cloud, full of secret lightnings and portentous mutterings. And, too, sometimes I seem to waken into thought with a start, and to behold nothing but the blind tyranny of pure materialism, and the unutterable sorrow and hopelessness of life, and the bitter blackness of the end, which is annihilation. But such phases are generally transient, and, like a drowning man buffeting the overwhelming waves, I can often rise about them and behold the vastness and the Glory of the Light of Other Life.

30And this brings me to a question which is at present troubling many others besides myself. I mean the question of the immortality of the individual. I do not know how you regard it yourself, but you must be aware that the drift of modern thought is antagonistic to personal immortality, and that many of our best and most intelligent thinking men and woman abjure it as unworthy of their high conception of Humanity….

31But is Humanity all? Has Humanity fashioned itself out of primal elements, arisen and marched down the long, strange ways of time – still marching, with eyes fixed on some self-projected Goal – without ever a spiritual breath blowing upon it, without the faintest guidance of any divine hand, without ever a glance of sorrowful and yearning but yet ineffably hopeful love from some Being altogether beyond and transcending it? Is it, can it be so? But in any case, whether with the Nirvana of the follower of Buddha, the absorption of the soul in the soul of God of the Deist and Theist, or with the loss of the individual in the whole of the Race of the Humanitarian, I cannot altogether agree. It may be the “old Adam” of selfishness; it may be poverty of highest feeling and insufficiency of intellectual grasp; but I cannot embrace the belief in the extinction of the individual.

32Memoir 29–31

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti,8 January 31, 1880

  • 8 Sharp’s first meeting with Rossetti probably occurred in September 1879 for, as this letter indica (...)

3319 Albert St., Regent’s Park N. W. | 31:1:80.

34My dear Sir,

35I hope you will not consider me ungrateful for the pleasure you gave me last night because I outwardly showed so little appreciation – but I was really so unwell from cold and headache that it was the utmost I could do to listen coherently. But though, otherwise, I look back gratefully to the whole evening I especially recall with pleasure the few minutes in which now and again you read. I have never heard: such a beautiful reader of verse as yourself, and if I had not felt – well, shy – I should have asked you to go on reading. Voice, and tone, and expression, all were in perfect harmony – and although I have much else to thank you for, allow me to thank you for the pleasure you have given me in this also.

  • 9 “Dance” was not published and has not survived. Rossetti’s “The Card Dealer” (1849) appeared in Po (...)

36I enclose 4 or 5 poems taken at random from my MSS. Two or three were written two or three years ago. That called the “Dancer” is modelled on your beautiful “Card Dealer”.9

37I have also to thank you for your kind criticisms: and hope that you do not consider my aspirations and daring hopes as altogether in vain. Despair comes sometimes upon me very heavily, but I have not yet lost heart.

38Yours most faithfully, | William Sharp

39Memoir 38

To Mona Caird,10 [Early February, 1880]

  • 10 Alice Mona Henryson Caird (1854–1932), a novelist, critic, social reformer, girlhood friend of E. (...)

40Dear Mona,

  • 11 The completed “House of Life” was published in Ballads and Sonnets (London: Ellis and White, 1881) (...)

41Was unable after all to resume my letter on Friday night. On Friday morning I had a note from Rossetti wanting me to come again and dine with him – this time alone, I was glad to find. I spent a most memorable evening, and enjoyed myself more than I can tell. We dined together in free and easy manner in his studio, surrounded by his beautiful paintings and studies. Then, and immediately after dinner he told me things of himself, personal reminiscences, with other conversation about the leading living painters and poets. Then he talked to me about myself, and my manuscripts – a few of which he had seen. Then personal and other matters again, followed, to my great delight (as Rossetti is a most beautiful reader) by his reading to me a great part of the as yet unpublished sonnets which go to form “The House of Life”.11 Some of them were splendid, and seemed to me finer than those published – more markedly intellectual, I thought. This took up a long time, which passed most luxuriously for me….

  • 12 Philip Bourke Marston (1850–1887) was a close friend of Rossetti and Sharp. After Marston’s early (...)
  • 13 Watts-Dunton (1832–1914,) a poet, critic, and novelist, was a close friend of Rossetti. Theodore W (...)
  • 14 Moncure D. Conway’s “William Kingdon Clifford” was tenth in the “Leaders of Modern Thought” series (...)
  • 15 Dr. James Martineau (1805–1900) was a Unitarian minister, a respected theologian, and a Professor (...)

42He has been so kind to me every way: and this time he gave me two most valuable and welcome introductions – one to Philip Bourke Marston,12 the man whose genius is so wonderful, considering he has been blind from his birth – and the other to his brother Mr. Michael Rossetti, to whom, however, he had already kindly spoken about me. I am to go when I wish to the latter’s literary re-unions, where I shall make the acquaintance of some of our leading authors and authoresses. Did I tell you that the last time I dined at Rossetti’s house he gave me a copy of his poems, with something from himself written on the flyleaf? On that occasion I also met Theodore Watts,13 the well-known critic of The Athenaeum. It is so strange to be on intimate terms with a man whom a short time ago I looked on as so far off. Perhaps, dear friend, when you come to stay with Elizabeth and myself in the happy days which I hope are in store for us all, you will “pop” into quite a literary circle!… I was sure, also, you would enjoy the “Life of Clifford” in “Mod: Thought”.14 What a splendid man he was: a true genius, yet full of the joy of life, sociable, fun-loving, genial, and in every way a gentleman. I was reading one of his books lately, and was struck with the sympathetic spirit he showed toward what to him meant nothing – Christianity. I wish we had more men like him. There is another man for whom I think I have an equal admiration though of a different order in one sense – Dr. Martineau.15 Have you read anything of his?

43On Wednesday evening next I am going to a Spiritual Seance, by the best mediums – which I am looking forward to with great curiosity….

44Besides verse, I am writing a Paper just now on “Climate in Relation to the Influences of Art”, and going on with one or two other minor things. There now, I have told you all about myself.

45Your friend and comrade, | Will

46Memoir 38–40

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [March 1880]16

  • 16 This letter precedes an undated letter to Rossetti in the Memoir (40–41) which responds to Rossett (...)

4719, Albert Street| Regent’s Park, N. W. | Sunday

48Dear Mr Rossetti

  • 17 Philip Bourke Marston.

49I sent off the sonnets yesterday in such tremendous haste, & I did not remember till today that the one entitled “The Redeemer’s Voice” had two similar terminations – & found that I had sent you a copy from the unrevised original. I now enclose a corrected one. Also one adapted from an “hexameter” sonnet I once showed you, entitled “The Two Realities” – & which Philip17 admires very much: and lastly two other not over cheerful effusions. As Marston is with me today, I have no time to select or copy others as we have something to do together.

50I told him that you had said that you intended asking me to bring him down to see you some evening – & he was delighted beyond measure. I read him the Sonnet on the Sonnet, which he thought exceedingly fine.

51Ever, in great haste, Your most faithfully | William Sharp

52ALS Lilly Library, Indiana University

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [March, 1880]


54Dear Mr. Rossetti,

55Thanks for your kind invitation to Philip and myself for Monday night – which we are both glad to accept. I found him in bed this morning on my way to the city – but had no scruple in waking him as I knew what pleasure your message would give. We both thank you also for promising to put us up at night.

  • 18 Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853–1931,) who later became a popular novelist, was a close companion of (...)

56I infer from your letter that you do not think “The Two Realities” good enough to send to Caine:18 and though of course sorry, I acquiesce in your judgment. I know that none of my best work is in sonnet-form, and that I have less mastery over the latter than any other form of verse. But I will try to improve my deficiencies in this way by acting up to your suggestions. You see, I have never had the advantage of such a severe critic as you before. For instance, I have received praise from many on account of a sonnet you once saw (one of a series on “Womanhood”) called “Approaching Womanhood” – which I enclose herewith – wishing you to tell me how it is poor and what I might have made of it instead. As I am writing from the city I have no others by me (but indeed you have been bothered sufficiently already) but will try and give one from memory – which I hastily dashed down one day in the office.

57Looking forward to Monday night,

58Yours ever sincerely, | William Sharp

59Memoir 40–41

To William Michael Rossetti, March 2, 188019

  • 19 William Michael Rossetti (1829–1919) was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s brother. His wife, Emma Lucy (18 (...)

602 March/80

61Do not let me disturb you if you are engaged. I am not able to get away in time to call on you at Somerset House, so excuse this liberty.

62W. S.

63ACS University of British Columbia

To Algernon Charles Swinburne, April 22, 188020

  • 20 This letter was transcribed and published in The Sexual Tensions of William Sharp by Terry L. Meye (...)

6419 Albert St. | Regent’s Park. N. W. | 22 April/80

65My dear Sir,

  • 21 Philip Bourke Marston (1850–1887), the son of John Westland Marston, a wellknown man of letters, w (...)

66It is only because I have the earnest hope of meeting you someday – if only for a few minutes – that I write you this letter and send you the accompanying verses. I would not have cared to send you them at all – they seem very poor indeed in my own eyes – but that my friend Philip Marston21 urged me to do so, saying he was sure you would be pleased. I cannot feel sure about this, but if you will not look to the verses as verses but for the meaning that gave them being I shall be content. It was because of the ever growing wonder and admiration which I had for your genius that I wrote them, and I wish that they could convey to you a tenth part of what I feel towards “our greatest lyric poet since Shelley”. You are known and unknown to me. I have heard Rossetti speak of you, and Marston frequently, till I felt as if I also knew you personally; but after leaving them I had only the wish, and the knowledge that I did not know you. But then in the “Poems”, in the “Songs”, in “Atlanta”, in “Erechtheus”, in “Bothwell” – ah, I found you there. I think the feelings of all young poets towards you must be those of intense gratitude: you have so enriched the glorious garden of English verse, and left such strong and beautiful seeding-fruits.

67It is needless to say that I am looking forward eagerly to your forthcoming volume. Someday it may be my good fortune to meet you; but in any case, I shall never regret having written to you, for I know that you will take it as it is meant. The fledgling cannot be blamed if it yearns to the full-throated lark far above it.

68Ever yours sincerely – (have I not a right to conclude thus, though I do not know you personally!)

69William Sharp

70ALS British Library

To John Elder, November 20, 1880

71Nov. 20, 1880

72If this note does not reach you by New Year’s Day it will soon after – so let me wish you most heartily and sincerely all good wishes for the coming year. May the White Wings of Happiness and Peace and Health brush from your path all evil things. There is something selfish in the latter wish, for I hope so much to see you before long again. Don’t despise me when I say that in some things I am more a woman than a man – and when my heart is touched strongly I lavish more love upon the one who does so than I have perhaps any right to expect returned; and then I have so few friends that when I do find one I am ever jealous of his or her absence.

73P. S. – I wonder if this Kentish violet will retain its delicious scent till it looks at you in New Zealand. It is probably the last of its race.

74Memoir 33

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, December 13, 1880

  • 22 Robert Edward Francillon (1851–1919), a novelist and journalist, married Rosamund Barnett, the dau (...)
  • 23 Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934), son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a novelist, journalist, historical w (...)
  • 24 David Christie Murray (1847–1907), a novelist and journalist, wrote some thirty loosely plotted no (...)

75… I spent such a pleasant evening on Saturday. I went round to Francillon’s22 house about 8 o’clock, and spent about an hour there with him and Julian Hawthorne.23 Then we walked down to Covent Garden, and joined the “Oasis” Club – where we met about 30 or so other literary men and artists, including the D. Christie Murray24 I so much wished to meet, and whom I like very much. We spent a very pleasant while a decidedly “Bohemian” night, and after we broke up I walked home with Francillon, Julian Hawthorne, and Murray. Hawthorne and myself are to be admitted members at the next meeting.

76Memoir 42

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [December, 1880]

77Dear Mr. Rossetti,

  • 25 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882), this poem was the subject of (...)

78… I wished very much to show you two poems I had written in the earlier half of this year, and now send them by the same post. The one entitled “Motherhood”25 I think the better on the whole. It was written to give expression to the feeling I had so strongly of the beauty and sacredness of Motherhood in itself, and how this is the same, in degree, all through creation: the poem is accordingly in three parts – the first dealing with an example of Motherhood in the brute creation, the second with a savage of the lowest order, and the third with a civilised girl-woman of the highest type.

79The other – “The Dead Bridegroom” – is more purely an “art” poem. After reading it, you will doubtless recognise the story, which I believe is true. Swinburne (I understand) told it to one or two, and Meredith embodied it in a short ballad. Philip Marston told me the story one day, and, it having taken a great hold upon me, the accompanying poem was the result. After I had finished and read it to Philip, it took strong hold of his imagination also – and so he also began a poem on the same subject, treating it differently, however, and employing the complete details of the story, instead of, as I have done, stopping short at the lover’s death, and is still unfinished.

  • 26 Rossetti’s written response to these two poems – “Motherhood” and “The Dead Bridegroom” – is conta (...)

80It is in great part owing to his generously enthusiastic praise that I now send these for your inspection; but also because much of what may be good in them is owing to your gratefully remembered personal influence and kindness, as well as your own beautiful work.26

81Memoir 43–44

To Eugene Lee-Hamilton, [late December, 1880]27

  • 27 Eugene Jacob Lee-Hamilton (1845–1907) was a poet-novelist and the half-brother of Violet Paget who (...)

8219, Albert Street | Regent’s Park, N. W. | London | Xmas 1880

83Lee Hamilton Esq., Florence.

84My dear Sir,

85I know you will not consider my writing to you a liberty – there is a freemasonry in art which does away with formalities between brother-artists.

  • 28 Probably Gods, Saints, and Men.

86I have of course heard of you from my cousin and fiancée, and she has sent me now and again poems or extracts from poems of yours – which she thought I would like – and some of which have afforded me great pleasure. I have not been able to obtain your book28 from Mudie’s, so cannot, as I should like, mention by name the poems or individual lines with which I am specially pleased. For one, I liked exceedingly your sonnet having special reference to my friend Philip Bourke Marston – and, if you have no objection, I should like to read it to him.

87My cousin told me she had read one or two verses from a poem of mine called “Motherhood” with which you were pleased. Thinking that the complete poem might interest you, I now send a copy of it by the same post as this. I took great care in the working out of it, as the subject was extremely difficult to evolve without on the one hand falling into the Scylla of the “Fleshly School” or on the other into the Charybdis of “Mysticism”. It was written from a deep sense of the beauty and sacredness of Motherhood in itself, in whatever form and under all circumstances. So I took 3 typical instances: a tigress, as exemplifying the brute creation – an Australian native, as exemplifying the lowest human savage – and a high-souled, pure-hearted girl as exemplifying the highest level of cultured civilisation.

88As artistic accompaniments to this three-fold idea I gave to the first, rich colouring: to the second, a somberness of hue: and to the third, what amount of solemnity and dignity I could convey.

89So much for explanation. Of course, by-the-by, I will not require the MS. returned – as I have 1 or 2 other copies taken by the same “Multifold Writer” process. I may mention that the second part is drawn in great measure from personal reminiscence of the time I spent 2 or 3 years ago in the Australian bush myself.

90I think you will understand how deeply and sincerely I feel with you in the difficulties under which you have to pursue your art. But high aims and the precious inward vision of the artist are greater than physical weakness.

91This will reach you on Xmas: let me offer you my sincerest wishes that the day may be a happy one, and that the coming year may be still more so.

92Believe me, | Yours Most Sincerely, | William Sharp

93ALS Colby College Library

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, December 20, 1880

9419, Albert Street, | Regent’s Park. N. W. | 20:12:80

95Dear Mr. Rossetti

96Many thanks for your generous response to my information about the subscription for Marston – the 3 guineas shall be duly put down for the triple period: & also for the promise of speaking to others likely to join. I hope something practical may be done either with the commencement of the year, or early in January.

97Many thanks also for your kind regards as to my recent illness.

98In great haste | yours most sincerely | William Sharp

99ALS University of British Columbia

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, January 24, 1881


  • 29 Frederic James Shields (1833–1911), a painter and illustrator influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, w (...)
  • 30 Shortly after Sharp settled in London in the late spring of 1878, Alexander Elder, the father of A (...)

101… Well, last Friday was a ‘red-letter’ day to me. I went to Rossetti’s at six, dined about 7:30, and stayed there all night. We had a jolly talk before dinner, and then Shields29 the painter came in and stayed till about 11 o’clock: after that Rossetti read me all his unpublished poems, some of which are magnificent – talked, etc. – and we did not go to bed till about three in the morning. I did not go to the Bank next day,30 as I did not feel well: however, I wrote hard at poetry, etc., all day till seven o’clock, managing to keep myself up with tea. I was quite taken aback by the extent of Rossetti’s praise. He said he did not say much in his letter because writing so often looks ‘gushing’ but he considered I was able to take a foremost place among the younger poets of the day – and that many signs in my writings pointed to a first-class poet – that the opening of “The Dead Bridegroom” was worthy of Keats – that “Motherhood” was in every sense of the word a memorable poem – that I must have great productive power, and broad and fine imagination – and many other things which made me very glad and proud….

102Memoir 44–45

To John Elder, February, 1881

103Feb., 1881.

  • 31 Auguste Comte (1789–1857) attempted to transform philosophy into religion by substituting the wors (...)
  • 32 Published in Sharp’s first volume of poems, The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882)

104I may say in reference to the Religion of Humanity that my sympathy with Comtism31 is only limited, and that though I think it is and will yet be an instrument of great good, I see nothing in it of essential savingness. It is even in some of its ceremonial and practical details a decided retrogression – at least so it seems to me – and though I do not believe in a revealed God, I think such a belief higher and more precious and morally as salutary as a belief in abstract Humanity. Concrete humanity appeals more to my sympathy when filled with the breath of “God” than in its relation to its abstract Self. When I write again I will endeavour to answer your question as to whether I believe in a God or not. My friend, we are all in the hollow of some mighty moulding Hand. Every fiber in my body quivers at times with absolute faith and belief, yet I do not say that I believe in “God” when asked such a question by those whom I am conscious misinterpret me. You have some lines of mine called “The Redeemer”;32 they will hint something to you of that belief which buoys my soul up in the ocean of love that surrounds it. It were well for the soul, if annihilation rounds off the circle of life, to sink to final forgetfulness in the sea of precious human love; but it is far better if the soul can be borne along that sea of wonder and glory to distant ever-expanding goals, transcending in love, glory, life all that human imagination ever conceived….

105Farewell for the present, dear friend, | W.

106Memoir 33–34

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [February 3, 1881]

107Thursday Morning

108Dear Mr. Rossetti,

109Thanks exceedingly: – I shall only be too glad to spend an hour or two with you on Sunday evening, & shall be with you in time for dinner as you suggest.

  • 33 Brackets as written. The ballad was probably “The Son of Allen” which Sharp included in Romantic B (...)

110I shall bring with me one of my best poems (in its way) – [it is a ballad]33 to read to you: it dates since “Motherhood”& “The Dead Bridegroom”.

111Marston enjoyed himself immensely the other night – you being what you are to him of course made the event memorable.

  • 34 Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881) was the author of four volumes of poetry. A brother-in-law of Phi (...)

112Poor O’Shaughnessy34 is to buried at 2:15 at Rensal Green.

113Ever yrs gratefully & affectionately | William Sharp

114ALS University of British Columbia

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, February 4, 1881


  • 35 Probably “The Son of Allan.”

116… I have written one of my best poems (in its own way) since writing you last. It was on Tuesday night: I did not get back till about seven o’clock, and began at once to write. Your letter came an hour or so afterward but it had to lie waiting till after midnight, when I finished, having written and polished a complete poem of thirty verses in that short time.35 It is a ballad. The story itself is a very tragic one. Perhaps the kind of verse would be clear to you if I were to quote a verse as a specimen:

And I saw thy face was flush’d, then pale,
And thy lips grow blue like black-ice hail,
With eyes on fire with the soul’s fierce bale,
Son of Allan!
I may have been pale, and may be red –
But this night shall one lie white and dead.
(O Mother of God! whose eyes
Watch men lie dead 'neath midnight skies).

  • 36 Philip Bourke Marston.
  • 37 Olivia Narney [Singleton] Garnett(d. 1903) was the wife of Richard Garnett (1835–1906), author and (...)

117Both story and verse I invented myself: and I think you will think it equal to anything I have done in power. It was a good lot to do at a sitting, wasn’t it? I will read it to you when you come home again…. I enjoyed my stay with Rossetti immensely. We did not breakfast till one o’clock on Tuesday – pretty late, wasn’t it? (I told you I had a holiday, didn’t I?) He told me again that he considered “Motherhood” fit to take the foremost place in recent poetry. He has such a fine house, though much of it is shut up, and full of fine things: he showed me some of it that hardly anyone ever sees. He has asked me to come to him again next Sunday. Isn’t it splendid? – and aren’t you glad for my sake? He told Philip36 that he thought I “had such a sweet genial happy nature”. Isn’t it nice to be told of that. My intense delight in little things seems also to be a great charm to him – whether in a stray line of verse, or some new author, or a cloudlet, or patch of blue sky, or chocolate-drops, etc., etc. Have you noticed this in me? I am half gratified and half amused to hear myself so delineated, as I did not know my nature was so palpable to comparative strangers. And now I am going to crown my horrid vanity by telling you that Mrs. Garnet37 met Philip a short time ago, and asked after the health of his friend, the “handsome young poet”! There now, amn’t [sic] I horridly conceited? (N. B. – I’m pleased all the same, you know!)

118I wrote a little lyric yesterday which is one of the most musical I have ever done. To-day, I was “took” by a writing mood in the midst of business hours, and despite all the distracting and unpoetical surroundings, managed to hastily jot down the accompanying lyric. It is the general end of young unknowing love….

119I had a splendid evening last night, and Rossetti read a lot more of his latest work. Splendid as his published work is, it is surpassed by what has yet to be published. The more I look into and hear his poems the more I am struck with the incomparable power and depth of his genius – his almost magical perfection and mastery of language – his magnificent spiritual strength and subtlety. He read some things last night, lines which almost took my breath away. No sonnet-writer in the past has equaled him, and it is almost inconceivable to imagine any one doing so in the future. His influence is already deep and strong, but I believe in time to come he will be looked back to as we now look to Shakespeare, to Milton, and in one sense to Keats. I can find no language to express my admiration of his supreme gifts, and it is with an almost painful ecstasy that I receive from time to time fresh revelation of his intellectual, spiritual, and artistic splendour. I fancy one needs to be an actual poet to feel this to the full, but every one, however dim and stagnant or coldly intellectual his or her soul, must feel more or less the marvelous beauty of this wedding of the spirit of emotional thought and the spirit of language, and the child thereof – divine, perfect expression. Our language in Rossetti’s hands is more solemn than Spanish, more majestic than Latin, deeper than German, sweeter than Italian, more divine than Greek. I know of nothing comparable to it. He told me to call him Rossetti and not “Mr. Rossetti”, as disparity in age disappears in close friendship, wasn’t it nice of him? It makes me both very proud and humble to be so liked and praised by the greatest master in England – proud to have so far satisfied his fastidious critical taste and to have excited such strong belief in my powers, and humble in that I fall so far short of him as to make the gulf seem impassable.

120Memoir 46–49

To Elizabeth A. Sharp, [February, 1881]38

  • 38 This letter was sent to Elizabeth Sharp while she was in Italy during the early months of 1881.

121You ask me, if I dislike the Old Masters of Poetry as much as I do those of Painting? and I reply certainly not, but at the same time the comparison is not fair. Most of the old poets are not only poets of their time but have special beauties at the present day, and can be read with as much or almost as much pleasure now as centuries ago. Their imagination, their scope, their detail is endless. On the other hand the Old Masters of Painting are (to me, of course, and speaking generally) utterly uninteresting in their subjects, in the way they treat them, and in the meaning that is conveyed. If it were not for the richness and beauty of their colour I would never go into another gallery from pleasure, but colour alone could not always satisfy me. But take the ‘Old Masters’ of Poetry! Homer of Greece, Virgil and Dante of Italy, Theocritus of Sicily, and in England Chaucer, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Webster, Ford, Massinger, Marlowe, Milton.

122The poetry of these men is beautiful in itself apart from the relation they bear to their times. We may not care for Dryden (though I do) or Prior or Cowley, because in the verse of these latter there is nothing to withstand the ages, nothing that rises above their times. In looking at Rubens, or Leonardo da Vinci, or Fra Angelico, we must school ourselves to admiration by saying “How wonderful for their time, what a near attempt at a perspective, what a near success in drawing nature – external and human!” Would you, or any one, care for a painting of Angelico’s if executed in exactly the same style and in equally soft and harmonious colours at the present day? Could you enjoy and enter into it apart from its relations to such-and-such a period of early Christian Art? It may be possible, but I doubt it. On the other hand take up the Old Masters of Poetry and judge them by the present high standard. Take up Homer – who has his width and space? Dante – who has his fiery repressed intensity? Theocritus, who has sung sweeter of meadows and summer suns and flowers? Chaucer – who is as delicious now as in the latter part of the fourteenth century. Shakespeare – who was, is, and ever shall be the supreme crowned lord of verse! – Take up one of the comparatively speaking minor lights of the Elizabethan era. Does Jonson with his “Every Man in his Humour”, or his “Alchemist”, does Webster with his “Duchess of Malfi”, does Ford with his “Lover’s Melancholy”, does Massinger, with his “Virgin Martyr”, do Beaumont and Fletcher with their “Maid’s Tragedy”, does Marlowe with his “Life and Death of Dr. Faustus”, pall upon us? Have we ever to keep before us the fact that they lived so many generations or centuries ago?

123I never tire of that wonderful, tremendous, magnificent epoch in literature – the age of the Elizabethan dramatists.

  • 39 Joaquin Miller (1841–1913) was the pseudonym of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, “The Byron of Oregon.” A (...)

124Despite the frequent beauty of much that followed I think the genius of Poetry was of an altogether inferior power and order (excepting Milton) until once again it flowered forth anew in Byron, in Coleridge, in Keats, and in Shelley! These two last names, what do they not mean! Since then, after a slight lapse, Poetry has soared to serener heights again, and Goethe, Victor Hugo, Tennyson, and Browning have moulded new generations, and men like Rossetti, Swinburne, Morris, Marston, Longfellow, and others have helped to make still more exquisitely fair the Temple of Human Imagination. Men like Joaquin Miller39 and Whitman are the south and north winds that soothe or stir the leaves of thought surrounding it.

125We are on the verge of another great dramatic epoch – more subtle and spiritual if not grander in dimensions than that of the sixteenth century. I hope to God I live to see the sunrise which must follow the wayward lights of the present troubled dawn.…

126On Monday evening (from eight till two) I go again as usual to Marston’s. I called at his door on my way here this afternoon and left a huge bouquet of wall-flowers, with a large yellow heart of daffodils, to cheer him up. He is passionately fond of flowers.…

127Memoir 49–51

To Eugene Lee-Hamilton, March 10, 1881

12819, Albert Street, | Regent’s Park, N. W. | 10:3:81

129Dear Mr. Hamilton,

  • 40 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882). Eugene Lee-Hamilton and Viole (...)

130I trust you have not misconstrued my silence since receipt of your letter on “Motherhood”40 – my only excuse is that I am so hard pressed for time, and what little time is left over from reviewing and [my] own literary work I am generally eager to occupy with reading: and moreover I have of late endeavoured to write as little as possible, owing to my not being quite so strong as I ought to be, and the physical act of writing being as a rule far from beneficial.

131I honestly thank you for your criticism – what you say in praise is very welcome, and what you have to blame is from your honest conviction. The poet or artist who cannot receive and think over adverse criticism seems to me to lack one of the very qualities most essential to the true artist – humility. Besides, even when adverse criticism appears unfounded it seldom fails of doing at least indirect good – i.e. of course when the criticism is honest and kindly meant.

132There was one reason also why I did not answer you again at once – and that was that I saw you completely misunderstood my motive – the raison d’etre of the poem – and not being very well at the time I did not feel up to explanations. You seem to think my object in writing was to describe the actual initial act of motherhood – whereas such acts were only used incidentally to the idea. I entirely agree with you in thinking such a motif unfit for poetic treatment – and more, I think it wd. be in very bad taste and wanting in true delicacy. My aim was something very far from this – and what made me see you had not grasped it were the words “Besides, is not your type of civilised woman degraded by being associated with the savage and the wild beast?” Of course, what I was endeavoring to work out was just the opposite of this. “Motherhood” was written from a deep conviction of the beauty in the state of motherhood itself, of the holy strangely similar bond of union it gave to all created things, and how it as it were forged the link whereby the chain of life reached unbroken from the polyp depths we do see to the God whom we do not see. Looking at it as I did, I saw it transfigured to the Seal of Unity: I saw the bestial life touch the savage, and the latter’s low existence edge complete nobility of womanhood, as – in the spirit – I see this last again merge into fuller spiritual periods beyond the present sphere of human life. In embodying this idea I determined to take refuge in no vague transcendentalism, or from any false feeling shirk what I knew to be noble in its mystic wonder and significance: and I came to the conclusion that the philosophic idea could be best embodied and made apparent by moulding it into three typical instances of motherhood, representing the brute, the savage, and the civilised woman. From this point of view, I considered making the choice of the initial act of motherhood (if it can so be called) – of birth – entirely justifiable, and beyond reach of the reproach of impurity, or even unfitness. As to the artistic working out of these typical motives, I gave to the first glow and colour, to the second mystery and weirdness, to the third what dignity and solemnity I could.

133These were my aims and views, and I have not yet seen anything to make me change them. I told Marston of your objection, and read him the sentence from your letter I have already quoted – and he said he found it difficult to understand your position, but that it was evident you had quite misunderstood my motive. Under the circumstances, you will not think it vain of me when I add that Rossetti – who is now (what I and others have long believed) becoming recognized as not only one of the greatest poets of the XIX century but also one of the greatest since Shakespeare, – considers “Motherhood” in the first order of work, both as regards execution (with one or two exceptions) and idea. He told me that this poem alone should enable me to take a foremost place amongst rising poets: and again that the much-dreaded Theodore Watts, the chief as well as the most influential critic in England (and between whom and myself there is no intimacy, as in the case of Rossetti) spoke of it (so I was told) in altogether exceptional terms, and even got enthusiastic over it. Both these men, whose judgement I must look to as the best, look on the raison d’etre of the poem exactly as I do myself. I know that you will understand I mention these instances not from any false pride, but simply to help to free myself from any implication of self-prejudice.

  • 41 This poem was never published (see Memoir 45.)

134So much for “Motherhood”. As for the “Dead Bridegroom”41 (which I am not sure, by-the-by, whether you have seen or not) I quite admit that the advisability of choosing such subjects is a very debatable one. It is the only one of mine (in my opinion) which could incur the charge of doubtful “fitness”. As a poem, moreover, it is inferior in workmanship to “Motherhood”.

135Well, that’s enough about myself I think.

  • 42 Eugene Lee-Hamilton’s first book of poems, Poems and Transcripts (1878).
  • 43 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882).

136I liked some of the “Poems and Transcripts”42 exceedingly, but I must say even the mastery of it you show cannot reconcile me to the hexameter in its English garb. Here and there our language seems to adjust itself to hexametrical rhythm – but such instances suggest to one the comparison of angel’s visits. The pathos of a “Sufferer” and “Elizabeth” struck me most, and there was one beautiful little lyrical piece which gave me great pleasure – the “Ever Young” I think it was called. I think the hexameter-verse almost certain to flag in power and pall the reader after a time. I have never (or at any rate never do now) used it – tho’ I have written one or two things in what are called “false hexameters”, a useful enough irregular measure in certain cases, but which requires to be used very sparingly. “The Redeemer”,43 which you have seen, is an example of such.

137Altho’ “Poems and Transcripts” is more interesting in that it is more personal, I on the whole prefer “Gods, Saints, and Men”, which I think contains the best things you have done. There are fine things in The Last Love of Venus, both in description and in such fine lyrical verses as these two –

“Say, where is the smoke of her altar,
And where the libations of wine,
And the prayers that the stripling wd. falter
And the wreaths that the maidens wd. twine?”

Of the statues once raised in her honour
How many unshatter’d remain?
And the hymns that heaped praises upon her,
Will man ever breath them again?”

138The Fiddle and the Slipper I also think particularly good of its kind, and in the Rhyme of the Reeds there is real ballad power. Nor must I forget The Keys of the Convent, despite my having much more sympathy with natural human love than selfish conventual seclusion. In The Bell Founder of Augsburg I notice some particularly fine lines –

“An awful stillness follows sudden crimes.
The furious wave, which has o’erwhelmed and swallowed
Our innocence, by sudden calm is followed,
The wave has passed, and underneath is death”.

139While the lines in The Witness

“But to be cheated of a single nod,
To be denied the pittance of a smile,
To hear him say, and say again, to God,
That he ne’er saw my face, while all the while
I can read recognition in his eyes”.

140There is marked fitness of expression – (spoilt slightly by the duplication of the word while).

141I was glad to hear The Rival of Fallopius met with the recognition it deserved.

142I often think of you, and it does me good to think of your courage under severe illness: and you will not object I know, to my saying how deeply I sympathize with you. Poetic work must be a great consolation for you, and I hope to hear of your continued success. Are you engaged on anything new just now?

143But it is now very late, and I ought to be in bed. Overleaf I send you the last sonnet [I] wrote, and which perhaps you will care for. It is written from the idea that life is sufficient unto itself apart from its destiny, as to which we can only surmise – and that in any case it is not the mere transitory bubble on the face of the stream it is so often compared to, but something infinite and in its essence unchangeable.

144With all good wishes, believe me, Dear Mr. Hamilton,

145Yours very faithfully, | William Sharp

146If at any time you have leisure or desire to write to me I shall be very glad indeed to hear what you are doing in poetry – and also if you still consider “Motherhood” so unworthy. I am looking forward to seeing your sister in the early summer.

Life’s Sufficiency

God rounds our sunlit day with sunless night
And incompleted are of life with death:
But sunrise every sunset followeth
And darkness travails with new birth of light. Can
the soul’s fire then be extinguish’ d quite,
Seeing it is no less than the sun’ s breath,
And more than cluster’d star-spheres borroweth
The central essence of God’s infinite might?

Whether, as in the old Lucretian dream,
The corporate being incorporate shall be,
One with the wind, the grass, the hill, the stream –
Or the clear-vision’d soul rejoicing flee
Enfranchis’d – life is more than transient gleam
Of desultory light on death’s vast sea.

147W. S.

148ALS Colby College Library, excerpt in Memoir 45–46

To Violet Paget (“Vernon Lee”) March [17?], 1881,44

  • 44 Violet Paget (1856–1937), daughter of Matilda [Adams] Lee-Hamilton Paget and Henry Ferguson Paget (...)

14919 Albert St: Regent’s Park N. W. | March, 1881

150Dear Miss Paget

  • 45 Agnes Mary Frances Robinson (1857–1944) was the daughter of George Robinson, a London banker who w (...)
  • 46 “Hand and Soul,” a prose tale by D. G. Rossetti published in The Germ in January 1849, tells the s (...)

151I have already heard so much of you both from my cousin and Mary Robinson45 that I feel I need to make no apology for forestalling our coming acquaintanceship by now writing – especially as I have just received a long letter from you to Elizabeth with reference to some work of mine which you have seen. Before endeavouring to reply to this letter, let me thank you most sincerely for all the trouble you had about the Figura Mystica (decidedly mystica) of “Chiaro dell Erma”. Rossetti had taken for granted when he gave me his pamphlet Hand and Soul that I wd. understand the opening was as artistically incorrect as the main portion was allegorically true: but unfortunately I did not find this out until after my cousin had written to you on the matter.46 I see your letter to her is dated 14th February – I wish she had forwarded it to me sooner that I might have been able to thank you before this.

  • 47 See March 10,1881 letter to Eugene Lee-Hamilton.

152And now as to your letter. I wrote a week or so ago to your brother as to his criticism on “Motherhood”47 and also with reference to his own poems – and in that letter I broadly stated, if I remember right, my views on the question.

153But in case you have not seen it I will go for you over the same ground again, taking your letter in detail. You begin by saying “I have been thinking a good deal of late of the School to which that poem Motherhood belongs, and of the desirability of a young poet like Mr. Sharp joining it”.

  • 48 The reference is to a controversy over an article, “The Fleshly School of Poetry,” which Robert Bu (...)
  • 49 Published in 1874.

154In the first place, your thoughts have found an anchoring place where neither myself nor my poetical and critical friends have yet done: in other words, “Motherhood” never seemed to me or them to belong to any school at all. It certainly could not be spoken of as belonging to the Fleshly School48 nor could it as to the Transcendental, or the Philosophic pure and simple, or the Didactic, or the Narrative, or the Lyric, or the Dramatic, or the Psychologic, or any other “ic” that men may have fashioned unto themselves. It is nearer the Philosophic, or the Natural, than any other – because what really is the poem is the beautiful idea: – the poetic garniture shrouding it is only a necessary incidental, worthy or unworthy as the case may be: for of course artistic expression is what constitutes the difference between the man who sees and writes, and the man who only receptively sees, and therefore does not write. I was spending the evening lately with Francillon, the author of “Olympia”49 and other fine works, and, as a critic, a strong opponent of the Fleshly School of verse – and in talking of some of my writing he said “There is one great charm to me in Motherhood, and that is that it is so strongly original – there is no trace of its belonging to the so-called Fleshly School which is so prevalent now – nor indeed of its belonging to any school, or showing any trace of indebtedness to any particular master”.

155By the subsequent remarks in your letter, however, and by what I have heard, I infer that by the “School to which Motherhood belongs” you mean the Fleshly School. As you will see by the above, I consider your adjudication mistaken.

156As to the latter part of the sentence – “the desirability of Mr. Sharp’s joining it” (the Fleshly School) I can honestly assure you that it is the last school of Art to which I shall render my efforts, that I have little sympathy with its present phase, and that I believe both it and mock-Aestheticism will, sooner or later, die a twin and heaven-to-be praised death. But where we differ, I expect, is in what poets and in which doctrines we consider the Fleshly School to embrace. To me, a fleshly (what a hideous word this is by the by – why not some such word as natural, or physical) poet is by no means necessarily a disciple of the Fleshly School. With all his faults – poetic and artistic – Walt Whitman is a noble and truly great fleshly or natural poet – but I can imagine no great contemporary writer having a greater contempt for what is called the Fleshly School, or more utter repudiation of its habits of expression. Again, Gabriel Rossetti is frequently spoken of as if at the head of this school: no greater mistake could get abroad. He is intensely spiritual and refined, and as far removed both in spirit and work from the crass materialism of such poets as form this School as Milton or Dante. It is materialism that is weighing down an already weary and overburdened nation – materialism everywhere, and most of all alas! in the hearts of the rising generation of young men and woman – not so much materialism that overlooks the soul, as materialism that has practically no soul, that scorned appendage nowadays being so carefully hidden away and shrouded up. And this materialism is often thought of and spoken of as intimately associated with advancing intellect and culture! Good God, as if intellect were comparable to character, and as if a thoroughly true and whole character could be evolved without the spiritual element: – and is culture to unfold her white wings and unstained hands and walk serenely forward, while the ground underneath is mire and mud and the air overhead is fog and darkening mist? And it is to this materialism – above all this intellectual materialism – that the Fleshly School owes its rise. The tree is known by its fruits.

157After this sentence I have quoted from your letter comes a series of remarks following on the statement – “I am persuaded that Mr. Sharp, in choosing the subject he did, was labouring under a confusion of ideas on the subject of what I may call ‘The Ethics of Impropriety’ which is extremely common” etc.

  • 50 Harry Buxton Forman (1842–1917), known for his painstaking editions of Keats and Shelley, worked f (...)

158Permit me in turn to point out what seems to me an equally common confusion of ideas on the subject of how true poets write. A poet who is really a poet does not as a rule choose his subject at all – his subject chooses him. As Buxton Forman says in his critical work on Contemporary English Poetry50 – “an artist whose ideas are cut as it were with a red hot blade on his very heart cannot always pick and choose his subject; he must often be chosen by his subject”: and again, speaking of a well-known poem, – “it is easy to see that neither the incidents nor the thread were arrived at by painful reasoning, or by any other process than by that real poetic intention concerning the nature of which critics must be content to remain profoundly nescient”. I am very glad to see such a well-known critic confessing this inability of non-poets to realise the part-intellectual, part-spiritual, part-emotional quality which is called poetic intuition.

159In like manner, Motherhood chose me, not I it as a subject. The idea took hold of me, enthralled me with its beauty and significance, possessed me till I gave it forth again in artistic expression. It was not till after the idea had seized my mind and imagination that I began to think of writing such a poem – and even then the whole details of it came in one intuitive flash, and I saw the poem from first to last as it now stands – I had no careful reasoning to go through, no judging of fittableness; no fears as to propriety or impropriety; – I simply had something in me – a pure beautiful idea – and to this I had to give expression. I had nothing to think of afterwards except the mere technical details and artistic presentment – such as glow and colour to the first part, weirdness to the second, dignity and moral beauty to the third.

  • 51 Emerson’s “The Poet.”

160As to the alleged impropriety of the subject of Motherhood I am at a loss to conceive upon what ground such a statement is put forward. I hope your brother does not still misunderstand me after my recent letter, but previously I know he had completely done so from one short sentence in his letter to me on this subject, where he says – “Besides, is not your type of civilized woman degraded by being associated with the savage and the wild beast?” This showed me that he, as I now see you have done also, looked at the poem and not at what made the poem: he looked at the external description, not at the soul-like animating idea. As Emerson says – it is not metres, but a metre-making argument that makes a poem; – a thought so passionate and alive, that, like the spirit of a plant or an animal, it has an architecture of its own, and adorns nature with a new thing.51 Your objection would have been perfectly valid if, say, the 1st part had been put forward by itself as a complete poem – nay more, it wd. be deserving of both artistic and moral censure as a pure Fleshly School production, without any raison d’etre apparently than pride in technical workmanship, and recklessness as to revelling in details of things much better left undescribed. But in Motherhood this first part is only one of the necessary three sides of the triangle of the central idea, and is never meant for a moment to be read by itself. Motherhood is not a theme given in three expository poems: it is one poem.

161I see that both you and your brother have fallen into the mistake of thinking that Motherhood was a delineation of Passion, and written to sanctify such. Where the sexual feelings are referred to they are introduced as linked to and giving point to the idea, and never for a moment formed original motifs. Animal desire in the first, savage longing in the second, and reminiscence of pure passion in the third parts are each introduced incidentally to the inner motif. It might just as well be said that the object of the poem was to give a poetical description of travail: and I for one would never so far degrade the art I follow as to write such a poem with such an object.

162I entirely agree with what you say as to the difference between the innocent and the holy and between that which may be done and that which may be described: and also, that merely because such and such a phenomenon exists or has existed it is not therefore desirable or defensible for reproduction in verse. I believe the essence of true poetry to be purity: not the hideous and unnatural malformation, Prudery – but Purity. Purity in intellectual, moral, and physical erudition and thought.

163For myself, I cannot conceive any man or woman being the worse of reading Motherhood: it seems almost a degradation to myself to stoop to imagine such a thing. If any man could comprehend the spirit, the idea, the teaching of the poem and not be the better of it, he wd. hardly be one we could call high-minded or of refined nature: and if any being (I cannot say man) should find in it nothing but sensual pleasure that gratified and fed his lowest appetites, then I say such a man makes it a mirror wherein his own foulnesses are focussed, and would of necessity be such an one as would sneer at the relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus Christ, or such an one as to whom the very name of “woman” carries no faintest breath of purification but only an odour, to a pure man as a death-vapour of unutterable vileness. What Motherhood makes clear is not innocence, but what is altogether holy and sacred. It is above all a poem for men. Pure, intellectual, and refined women like yourself, Miss Paget, do not understand the necessity of theoretical as well as practical purity to men: how men have naturally not only more animalism but also how their outer circumstances tend far more to subdue or destroy their sense of spiritual significance, than in the case of women. I know, as you cannot know, how so many men look on passion, marriage, and motherhood; and not all the poets, critics, and philosophers in Christendom could prevent me thinking that it is a noble aim and worthy of any poet – to help men (blinded by upbringing, or other circumstances) to perceive and realise that passion is not lust, is not alone physical desire, but is a blended yearning of body and spirit: – that marriage is not sexual union for the propagation of the race alone, but a true complementary union between two natures akin to each other for the purposes of growth in spiritual beauty and nobility: – and that motherhood is not an outcome alone of the two foregoing, not a painful and unpleasant natural act, but a fact full of the most spiritual significance – a link of unguessed and immeasurable value to the man, a sacrifice of divine import to the woman. This, if I fail not, is and will be one of my main aims in life.

  • 52 There is no record of its publication.

164It seems to me that Motherhood is an effort in furtherance of this: and I have not yet seen the shadow of reason that can make me alter my belief in the rectitude and fittingness of what I have done. As far as personal affirmation goes, I emphatically deny that, to use your own words, I have made “a very dreadful prostitution of my powers”. Insight is everything; and to those who can honestly see no spiritual affinities in Motherhood, I am afraid it must just forever remain “the hocos-pocus in words” which you describe it. It is thus with half-amusement and half-comprehension of your meaning that I read your statements to my cousin as to “the sophistication of ideas under which I am labouring”. There is sophistication and sophistication. It is from no petty pride or self-opinionativeness (for I am ever open to argument and opposite views) that I say we are not likely ever to agree upon this matter, as far as my accepting the view you uphold is concerned: – nor is it likely, I think, that my cousin ever will either. I hope not. And now enough as to Motherhood and its allied questions – and only one word more as to one other of my poems. Mary Robinson tells me you have read “The Satyr”:52 – unfortunately you have not done so, but only a copy of the original draft which my cousin had in her little book, and which she had not my authority for showing you. “The Satyr” as Miss Robinson has seen it is a very different poem from the one you have seen – being clarified by a truer classicalism and materially modified as to expression and detail. A clay model often looks suggestive of something less than purity and modesty, while the finished marble statue is white in import as the parian itself.

  • 53 Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy (1880).

165And now, dear Miss Paget (for I seem to have got to know you better since my letter, and “dear” is the first step from conscious aloofness) believe me when I say I thank you most sincerely for the kind interestedness that prompted your writing the critique you did, and the generous terms in which apart from my subjects, you praise my ‘abilities’. It is doubly flattering when from the author of the “Studies”.53

166Pray remember me most cordially to your brother, whose acquaintance I feel it a personal loss I cannot make in the flesh. I earnestly hope he is comparatively well, and that the Poetry which is so much to him is proving an openhanded goodness.

  • 54 Sharp did not make his first trip to Italy until 1883 (Memoir 78–79). E. A. S. was in Italy in ear (...)

167I am looking forward to seeing you in June,54 and tho’ I am afraid you will not find a convert, I hope at least you may find a friend in

168Yours very sincerely | William Sharp

169ALS Colby College Library

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, April 5, 1881

1705th April/81

171Dear Rossetti,

  • 55 This edition has not been identified.
  • 56 Christina G. Rossetti’s Poems (1872). Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894) was the sister of Da (...)
  • 57 Light of Asia was not written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton but by Sir Edwin Arnold. The full title is T (...)
  • 58 Sharp seems to be saying that the Tauchnitzedition [Poems, ed. with a Memoir of the author by Fran (...)

172I am very glad to be able to inform you that the assistant at the bookseller’s I frequent confused the paper edition of your work55 with some other – apparently partially with your sister’s56 and partially with a cheap edition of Lytton’s Light of Asia.57 The only paper edition he knows of your book is what you spoke of, and the only one that can be procured cheaper – The Tauchnitz.58

173It’s a good thing there turns out to be nothing in it – In great haste,

174Yrs affectionately | William Sharp

175No ill effects of the chill while sonneteering.

  • 59 Not published.


Love’s Prayer.

What gain is it to thee I love thee so,
Through this my love surpasses all loves, sweet?
What profits thee the fervour and the heat
Of my soul’s worship – What the gifts I throw
Of joy, love, hope, tears, and passionate woe
Before thee, to be trampled by thy feet
Or raised to bliss delicious and complete?
What matters it though all of these ye know?
O thou, that shinest as a moon of love
On wastes of turbulent wild waves that roll
Day and night, night and day, athwart my soul,
Look once on me from thy still height above;
Speak one low word that I at least may hear
From thine own lips the doom I know and fear.

II. Love’s Answer.

Gain beyond measure that thou lovest so,
Gain beyond hope thy love to me is, sweet.
Dear beyond words the fervour and the heat
Of thy soul’s worship – and the gifts you throw
Of joy, love, hope, tears, and passionate woe.
I stoop and lift up from before my feet,
And hug them till my bliss is made complete:
The depths of thy delicious love I know.
O thou who hast made sweet my life with love,
And made its silent placid waters roll
In waves of splendour over my glad soul,
Stoop down and kiss me from thy height above!
Kiss me, and let me cling to thee; I hear
Thy low sweet words, and have no longer fear.

William Sharp

176ALS Smith College Library

To Violet Paget, May 16, 1881

17719 Albert Street | Regents Park N. W. | 16 May/81

178Dear Miss Paget,

  • 60 “The Wandering Jew” was not published.

179My cousin having kindly made a copy for me of my last long poem60 I now send it to you and your brother. It certainly contains some of the best work I have yet attained to. As you will see, it is (as Rossetti calls it) a kind of spiritual Childe Harold, comprising in brief review the rise of Humanity – figured as one man – from a far-off unreachable past thro’ successive stages and in various lands down to the present epoch of his history. From the time I first carefully chose the form for its expression (a literary essential not obtaining a quarter of the attention it deserves) to the writing of the last verse I gave it every care, striving to let there be no such thing as an unpoetical verse, and above all seeking to condense judiciously from the mass of material ready to hand.

180I have written it from a deep and heartfelt motive, and I hope it will bear to you and others the impress of deep earnestness. Up to a certain point, including the portion dealing with Christ, I know that intellectually you will in the main agree with me – but when in the latter stanzas I unfold my personal belief and aspirations as those that seem to me noblest for Man collectively, I suppose we shall disagree. You told me in your letter that what I believe – what is to me an unspeakable spiritual boon, a hope for the glorious destiny of the individual soul as well as for Mankind collectively – is mere nonsense. Nevertheless, I am weak enough to still determine to cleave to those aspirations and hopes which are to me the highest conceivable, and to try to the utmost of my powers to help others whose spiritual ways are dark, whose souls are oppressed with all the world’s woes as well as with personal sorrows.

181I am very glad that I did not write this poem two or three years ago, when I shared almost in toto the views you yourself hold. At that time Hegel, and Comte, and Spencer, and Huxley seemed to me the High Priests of Truth, and I had as blind a faith in their Reason as you now have. In time (and thro’ not pleasant seasons to look back to) I grew out of this material phase: but so deep was my suffering in it, so little of real hope for Man could it give me, that I am never tempted to speak harshly or scornfully of those who still dwell therein. Charity – the charity that implies the belief others may possibly be right, or at least reaching towards the same ends by diverse ways – is not a common thing, I am afraid. I shall never forget the intellectual debt I owe to those great writers I have mentioned, and especially to Comte, Darwin, and John Stuart Mill, but I now see that each of them were only for me steps leading to the temple. I am not a Christian, in the acceptation of the term implying belief in his divinity, but I owe far more to Christ than to any other man. He was philosopher, social reformer, poet, teacher, and prophet in one. Tho’ some of my relations in Scotland will have nothing to say to me because of my heterodox and what they call atheistic and blasphemous views, and tho’ some even in London consider me as almost hopelessly morally perverted because my creed is simply “I believe in immortality, and in the conscious Will of God” – I think I can still say I love and reverence that noble spirit who suffered for his fellow man 18 centuries ago as deeply perhaps as many Christians. But whether or not the last verse of “The Wandering Jew” conveys to your mind a different impression, whether, instead of my meaning, the “vaster glory” to come is perfected Humanity alone, I yet trust the poem will not seem to you to have been written in vain. It is moreover poetically the best thing I have done yet.

  • 61 Vernon Lee, “A Dialogue on Contemporary Morality,” Contemporary Review, XXXVIV (1881), 682–707. As (...)

182I asked Miss Robinson to tell you how much I liked and admired your paper in the Contemporary.61 As I told her, I could have written it myself, as far as agreeing with what you say therein is concerned: only, naturally, I could not help feeling annoyed at the (to borrow your own favourite phrase) sophistication of ideas which leads you to judge of me as you do. What Cyril says in the latter half of page 703 corresponds exactly with what I have always believed and urged not only in conversation and correspondence but also in print: – and the succeeding remarks of Baldwin (i.e. you) as applied to myself are utterly unjust. I confess I should side with Cyril in thinking such a young poet (God save the mark!) should be birched. Not only did I agree so thoroughly with your paper, I also extremely admired its literary setting, its clear concise style and artistic finish, and beauty of natural detail. You certainly feel Nature poetically. I confess also that it gave me a higher opinion of your critical and literary powers than your long letter on the same subjects did – the latter giving me the impression of being very young as well as here and there illogical.

183You have been very candid with me: shall I be equally candid with you, and tell you that it seems to me you have a very strong tendency to dogmatise upon every subject that turns up, whether you are intimately acquainted with it or only partially so. I know you will not take this unpleasantly, for you are of far too strong mental calibre to be seriously put about by adverse criticism, especially when offered in no unkindly spirit.

184By-the-way, I remember being rather amused (in the letter meant for me addressed to my cousin) at what you said as to my taken-for-granted ignorance of the old dramatists, advising me to read and study them carefully so as to see how pure they were at heart and only unclear in the externals owing to the exigencies of the times they lived in: as for nearly 10 years past they have been my continuous delight. In the first place, I am a little older than yourself instead of younger; in the next, I have had exceptional advantages for wide and varied reading; and in the third, have naturally made myself intimately acquainted with the period which is the most glorious our literature has seen. Apart from this, I have and always have had the most intense love for and ceaseless delight in such men as Marlow, Webster, Massinger, Beaumout, Fletcher, and Shakespeare – so much so that I do not think there are many who know and appreciate these great writers more than myself. You can understand, therefore, how half-provoked half-amused I was at the complacent arrogance of your remarks.

185But now I hope we know each other better: I certainly do, and the more I hear, see, and read of you and yours the more I am glad of the possibility of numbering you among my few friends.

186Please read the first (explanatory) part of this letter to your brother, to whom I hope the poem will give pleasure. I shall be glad to hear from him when he has read it, if he has time and disposition to write. Give him my most sincere greetings, both as now expressed and in the accompanying sonnet, which I have just written specially for him. I also send you one on that exquisite spirit-like thing, the Wind of Spring – in return for the great pleasure your natural descriptions in the Contemporary gave me.

187Looking forward to meeting you before very long, believe me, dear Miss Paget,

188Yours very sincerely, | William Sharp

  • 62 “Spring Wind” was published in Sharp’s first collection of poetry, The Human Inheritance; The New (...)

Spring Wind62

O full-voic’d herald of immaculate Spring
With clarion gladness striking every tree
To answering raptures, as a resonant sea
Fills rock-bound shores with thunders echoing: O thou, each beat of whose tempestuous wing
Shakest the winter sleep from hill and lea,
And rousest with loud reckless jubilant glee
The birds that have not dared as yet to sing:

O wind that comest with prophetic cries,
Hast thou indeed beheld the face that is
The joy of poets and the glory of birds –
Spring’s face itself: – hast thou ’neath bluer skies
Met the warm lips that are the gales of bliss,
And heard June’s leaf-like murmur of sweet words?
March/81. | W. S.

189N. B. The words “clarion gladness” are taken from the accompanying Wandering Jew, verse 33, but haven’t had time to make an alteration in the sonnet yet.

A Poet’s Greeting to a Brother Poet

(W. S. To E. L. H).

The month, in whose warm heart is graven deep
The cuckoo’s voice, waits smiling behind May,
Her frolic sister who upon the way
Strews blossoms laughing: from their long dark sleep
Daily the blessed roses stir and creep
From fold and bud: and thro’ the twilight grey
That dreams about the haunts of vanish’ d day
The culver calleth from the wooded steep.

I, in the busy haunts of men, but dream
Of these, as thou upon thy weary bed:
Yet every day we know the blue skies gleam,
And every night the star-lamps shine, o’erhead.
Is it not well with us that we can feel
At least such memoried raptures o’er us steal?

190ALS Colby College Library

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [July 25, 1881]

19119 Albert Street | Regent’s Park | Monday

192My dear Rossetti

  • 63 Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901) was a Scottish artist, illustrator and sculptor. He was also a p (...)

193Sir Noel Paton63 is at present in Kent, & though he is only south for a few days in all he intends if at all possible paying you a brief afternoon visit. He spoke very warmly and enthusiastically of you, and seems really anxious to see you again. It is, however, still uncertain whether he will be able to manage a call or not as he is not only pressed for time but far from well. I told him that to the best of my knowledge you would be at home any afternoon this week, and if he is able to do as he hopes he will look you up on either Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. He leaves again on Friday. If he cannot manage it, he told me to give you his kindest remembrances and all good wishes. He has not yet got over the shock of the narrow escape he and Lady Paton & one of their sons had from drowning, after being upset from a small sailing boat on a lonely Highland loch, all having to swim a long distance in a very exhausted condition.

  • 64 This refers to either Poems or Ballads and Sonnets, both published in London by Ellis and White in (...)

194It is becoming a serious case of hope deferred in regard to your book.64 When is it coming out? I do hope soon now.

195Ever yours affectionately | William Sharp

196ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, July 28, 1881

19719 Albert St. | Regent’s Park N. W. | 28/7/81

198My dear Rossetti,

  • 65 Dinah Maria Mulock (1826–1887), the author of John Halifax, Gentleman (1854), married George Lilli (...)
  • 66 Since Rossetti had multiple paintings titled Beatrice it is difficult to determine which Sharp ref (...)

199You will be glad to hear that there is no unsatisfactory news of Lady Paton or Sir Noel. I was with the Craiks last night, and Mrs. Craik65 was telling me of the extreme enthusiasm of Sir Noel after his visit to you. He had not been well or in good spirits for some days previous, but when he returned to Kent that evening he was like another man. He declared the short time he spent at No. 16 was worth coming from Scotland for alone. Deeply and sympathetically as he had always admired your works, the “Beatrice” he seems to have fouéd a crowning work of genius: and he told the Craiks on his return that it was one of the very few pictures he had ever seen that gave him an absolute sense of spiritual restfulness and complete achievement.66 The ideal beauty of the colouring & the whole conception while giving him inexpressible pleasure gave also great pain, for it made him feel, he said, the inferiority of his own work. He would talk of almost nothing else, & Mrs. Craik says she had never seen him so wrought upon before. He thinks it one of the greatest paintings that have ever been produced.

200What I now write to ask you is if some afternoon during August I may bring Mrs. Craik to see the Beatrice. Sir Noel was very anxious she should see it, as she is both one of his chief friends & he has great faith in her art appreciation. She is a great admirer of your work. I know your objections to seeing strangers, but if you would kindly consent to acceding to Mrs. Craik’s request it would not only be gratifying to her and a personal favour to myself but also to Sir Noël.

201I am looking forward to seeing the latter when I go to Scotland in September, and also to paying a visit to the scene of the murder of James I, – which I am particularly anxious to see after hearing your splendid ballad. I hear your sister’s book is out – I heard the Craiks speaking very enthusiastically about it.

202Hoping you are well

203Yours affectionately | William Sharp

  • 67 Dr. Westland Marston (1819–1890), the father of Sharp’s friend Philip Bourke Marston, was a poetic (...)
  • 68 Possibly the wife of Viscount Stratford Canning, Stratford de Redcliffe (1786–1880). An important (...)

204P. S. I am sorry to say the Civil List application as to Dr. Marston67 has not been entertained. It is a great shame. Gladstone declines a thoroughly deserving literary case, yet grants the large sum of £ 500/annum to Lady Redcliffe!68 It seems to me very unfair.

205ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel RossetTo Elizabeth A. Sharp, September, 1881

206Lesmahagow | Sept., 1881

207… Yesterday I spent some hours in a delicious ramble over the moors and across a river toward a distant fir wood, where I lay down for a time, beside the whispering waters, seeing nothing but a semicircle of pines, a wall of purple moorland, the brown water gurgling and splashing and slowly moving over the mossy stones, and above a deep cloudless blue sky – and hearing nothing but the hum of a dragonfly, the summery sound of innumerable heather-bees, and the occasional distant bleat of a sheep or sudden call of a grouse. I lay there in a kind of trance of enjoyment – half painful from intensity. I drank in not only the beauty of what I have just described, but also every little and minute thing that crossed my vision – a cluster of fir-needles hanging steel-blue against the deeper colour of the sky, a wood-dove swaying on a pine-bough like a soft gray and purple blossom, a white butterfly clinging to a yellow blossom heavy with honey, a ray of sunlight upon a bunch of mountainash berries making their scarlet glow with that almost terrible red which is as the blood of God in the sunsets one sometimes sees, a dragonfly poised like a flame arrested in its course, a little beetle stretching its sharded wings on a grey stone, a tiny blue morsel of a floweret between two blades of grass looking up with, I am certain, a sense of ecstatic happiness to the similar skies above – all these and much more I drank in with mingled pain and rejoicing. At such times I seem to become a part of nature – the birds seem when they sing to say things in a no longer unfamiliar speech – nor do they seem too shy to approach quite close to me. Even bees and wasps I do not brush away when they light upon my hands or face, and they never sting me, for I think they know that I would not harm them. I feel at these rare and inexpressibly happy times as a flower must feel after morning dew when the sun comes forth in his power, as a pine tree when a rising wind makes its boughs quiver with melodious pain, as a wild wood-bird before it begins to sing, its heart being too full for music…. O why weren’t you there?

208Memoir 54–55

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, September 10, 188169

  • 69 A portion of this letter appears in the Memoir (55–57).

209Stockbriggs | Lesmahagow | N. B. | Saturday – 10th Sept./81

210My dear Rossetti,

211How I wish you were here, as I am sure you would enjoy it so much…. Stockbriggs is a fine estate of 6 square miles situated amidst the loneliest moors of Lanarkshire, and there is almost everything one needs in order to make the time pass happily: a nice house, and people who are hospitality incarnate – a fruit garden of 2 acres, with strawberries & gooseberries still in full bloom – the river Nethan, a beautiful trout stream, running close to my bedroom window and for 6 miles thro’the grounds – endless rides in all directions – splendid stretching purple moors within easy distance – around, innumerable places of legendary or historical interest, such as Craignethan Castle (the Tillietudlem of Old Mortality) Douglas Castle, St. Bride’s Chapel (where repose the brave hearts of the good Sir James Douglas who brought home with his own dead body the Bruce’s heart, now buried in Dunfurnshire, – and that of the fierce Archibald Bell-the-Cat – the ancient priory of Lesmahagow – Broken Cross Muir – etc. etc. Where most I enjoy myself, however, is along the solitary banks of the Nethan; it is a true mountain stream, now rushing along in broken falls, now rippling over shallows of exquisite golden-brown hues – now skipping with slow perfect grace of motion under the overhanging boughs of willow, pine, or mountain-ash – and ever and again resting in deep dark linns and pools in deliciously dreamful fashion, the only signs of life being a silver flash from its depths as some large trout or grilse stirs from the shelter of the mottled boulders banking the sides, or when a dragonfly like a living flame flashes backwards & forwards after the grey gnats. Indeed, I never saw such a place for dragonflies – I think there must be vast treasures of rubies and emeralds under these lonely moors, and that somehow the precious stones dissolve and become permeated with the spirit of life, and use up living green fires or crimson and purple flames to flash upon the unseen hill-winds instead of upon a woman’s bosom or in the Holy of Holies in an Idolater’s Temple.

212Between the moors themselves and the Nethan my enjoyment is divided. It is delicious to be alone on these lofty plateaux, with nothing to meet the eye but an apparently endless stretch of long purple waves of swelling heather, broken perhaps here & there by the steel-blue of a pine-wood ridging some far off mound, with above and around a semicircle of intense blue sky, thro’ which at startled intervals there falls again and again the wail of a curlew or hoarse cry of the moorcock. The wind seems to blow straight from the depths of heaven, so soft is it and yet so invigorating, so fresh and yet so charged with delicious scents from bog-myrtle, heather, and pine. There is a constant underhum of innumerable insects – bees swaying in the bells of mountain flowers, butterflies quivering over orchis and bracken, gnats dancing in ever shifting circles & seeming to draw a maze of thread against the blue background of the sky, wasps droning out their idle life in the golden sunshine, black, brown, and green beetles rasping away with their sharded wings, voracious dragonflies here there & everywhere – and many others all in one harmonious concert. Sometimes the more definite sounds are varied by the cry of a wandering hawk or the distant bleat of a sheep – but as a rule the grouse, the curlews, and the plovers have it to themselves.

213After the gloaming has dreamt itself into night the banks and woods along the stream seem to become a part of a weird faeryland. The shadows are simply wonderful. White owls come out and flit about on silent ghostly wings with weird uncanny cries, & bats begin to lead a furiously active existence. The other night I was quite startled by seeing a perfectly white animal slowly approaching me: it looked remarkably like the ghost of a fox or a wild-cat, but I am afraid it was only a white hare.

214So much for my surroundings. As for the few people hereabout they are all charmingly of the old time. After dinner, and while the claret, port, & sherry (the latter, oh so brandied!) are in process of consumption, large toddy goblets with silver spoon ladles and smaller tumblers are handed round to ladies & gentlemen alike. Then come the large silver flagon with the hot water, the bowl with the strictly symmetrical lumps of sugar, 3 of which go to the large tumbler, and the cut crystal decanter of pure Glenlivet.

215The custom has great advantages, but it certainly does not conduce to the safe driving of the dogcart home again.

216Here is a specimen of a purely Scotch Bill of Fare, for some especially noteworthy occasion

Bill of Fare

A wee drappie Talisher.
Callipee Broth. Hotch Potch.
Saumon à la Pottit Heed. Pomphlet à la Newhaven.
Anither Drappie.
Mince Collops. Doo Tairt
An Eek.
Stuffed Bubbly Jocks an Hawm.
Gigot of Mutton wi’ red curran jellie.
Sheep’s Head an’ Trotters.
Tatties Biled & Champit. Bashed Neeps.
Jist a wee Donal!
Glesky Magistrates. Sma’ peas.
Grozet Pies. Aiple Dumplins.
Ice Puddin wi’ cookies

A Guid Dram to keep a’ doon.

217When I have a house of my own I shall give such a dinner some day, and the Sassenach hearts present shall admit there is no dinner like a Scotch one and no whiskey like the heavenly Celtic brew.

  • 70 Sir Noel Paton.

218At the end of next week (about the 16th) I go to see Sir Noel70 – whom I hope to find well.

  • 71 Philip Bourke Marston.

219I hope you are well yourself, though I wish you were in some such place as this instead of rain-haunted London. May I come & see you again when I come back early in October? I always enjoy so much a visit to 16 Cheyne Walk. Philip71 has been rusticating at Deal.

220And now, au Revoir,

221Ever yours affectionately, | William Sharp

222I should be much obliged if you wd kindly forward the letter to Hall Caine (by the same post as this) as I do not know his address.

223ALS University of British Columbia, excerpt in Memoir (55–57)

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, September 17, 1881

22416 Rosslyn Terrace | Glasgow W. | 17th Sept./81

225My dear Rossetti,

226Just received your letter of the 14th this morning, & can only reply by a brief note as I am on the point of leaving my mother’s house in Glasgow again.

227Philip has returned to 191 Euston Road, but unfortunately does not seem to be very well – some kind of suppressed cold, I think.

  • 72 Rossetti created three paintings titled Dante’s Dream. The first is a watercolor from 1855, and th (...)
  • 73 Sir Noel Paton.
  • 74 Raphael’s Sistine Madonna (1513), which is at the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden.

228I am so glad to hear that Dante’s Dream72 has become the property of the corporation of Liverpool, thus opening to the public such a masterpiece of beauty and conception: and I am also glad to hear that you are going out of town for a little, and I only hope you may have good weather. I shall give your message to Sir Noel73 when I see him on Monday. I had (wonder of wonders for the man of postcards and telegrams) a long letter from him the other day – in which he writes of you as follows: “you will understand how much I am pleased to know that I did not bother Rossetti by breaking in upon his work in June; for I have sometimes feared it must have been otherwise. Certainly I was conscious of being deplorably inarticulate. The fact being that I was so dumbfounded by the beauty of his great picture that I was unable to give any expression to the emotions it excited, – emotions such as I do not think any other picture except the Madonna di San Sisto74 at Dresden ever stirred within me. Again and again I have attempted to write to him on the subject – but the memory of such a picture is like the memory of sublime and perfect music: it makes any one who fully feels it – silent.

229“I am so glad for the pig-headed public’s sake, no less than for Rossetti’s own, that it is being exhibited, altho’ I could have wished it had been first seen in London, as the centre of a special exhibition of his works. But as it is, it is well. Fifty years hence it will be named among the half dozen supreme paintings of the world”.

230In much haste

231Ever yrs affectionately | William Sharp

232P. S. My old address, 19 Albert St. is now cancelled – and my address in London till I take new rooms (when I will let you know) will be | 72 Inverness Terrace | Kensington Gardens | W. | where I shall be returning before the end of the month.

233ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [September 22, 1881]

234Rosslyn Terrace | Kelvinside, Glasgow. | Thursday Evening.

235My dear Rossetti,

236I promised I would let you know how I found Sir Noël. He is fairly well, but unfortunately both he and Lady Paton have been much pulled down by nursing; their son Victor being just convalescent from typhoid fever. This on the head of the results of their late accident has told against both. It adds also to his insomnia, unfortunately. He is going to give your Camphor remedy a trial, & thanks you for thinking of it.

237He is engaged on a fine painting at present, about which I will tell you when I see you next; & has also finished a particularly fine relief in bronze, illustrating the by no means new idea of a good & bad angel striving for the mastery of a man. It is peculiarly his own, however.

  • 75 Frederick James Shields.

238You will be glad to hear that when I spoke to him about Shields75 not being rewarded for his work according to the measure of its worth, & being at times in stress of deficient means, he said he thought he would be able to do Shields a service by strongly advising the Duke of Westminster to take the cartoons themselves likewise, and at a good price – & also letting him know indirectly that in his (N. P’.s) opinion the designs were underpaid. In default of this, Sir Noel knows of another social potentate who may turn out to be of signal service. I do hope his efforts may not be wholly without avail. He sends you his warmest remembrances with many kind auguries – tho’ I daresay some of his family wish that Dante’s Dream and its author were both permanently damned in perdition, hearing the head of the family refer to it so often and so insistently.

  • 76 Noel Paton’s sister, Amelia Robertson Paton (1820–1904), was a portrait painter and sculptor. Her (...)
  • 77 Probably The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Mary Shelley and published by Edwar (...)

239His sister (Mrs. D. O. Hill)76 has finished the most remarkable and beautiful bust of Shelley I have ever seen. She intends it as a free gift for Shelley’s grave, if the Shelleys themselves are agreeable. It closely resembles the fine engraving in Moxon’s early edition,77 but stronger: and is also founded on Mrs. Leigh Hunt’s small (& to me, repellent) bust of the poet; & further verified by the small exquisite engraving issued privately for the Shelleys by Colnaghi & Co., of Percy at the age of 14, from a drawing by the Duc de Montpensier. In this latter, I notice a rather marked resemblance to Keats at a later age.

  • 78 Either Poems or Ballads and Sonnets.

240When is the book78 to be out? I, for one, am very impatient.

241In haste

242Ever yours | William Sharp

243ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, September 23, 1881

24416 Rosslyn Terrace | Glasgow. W. | Friday. 23 Sept./81

245My dear Rossetti,

246Your letter from Cumberland dated Tuesday only reached me this morning, hence the delay in reply.

247I am glad to be able to comply with your request as to the letter from Sir Noël. My chief reason for not having sent it to you at once was that I might find it useful someday in proving the high opinion an artist like Sir Noël had of yourself – and also as a pleasant record of the two men I most like and admire and who have been so kind and generous to me. However, I am only too glad to render it up if it can be of any service to you – and I quite see how some guarantee of this nature will go a long way with the worthy Liverpool committee, by strengthening their confidence in the good fortune of having purchased your painting.

248As the first page or two related to private matters, I supposed you would not object to its partial dismemberment – however, everything that is necessary for identification is there.

249Hoping you will have a pleasant time in Cumberland (thro’ which I shall pass on Monday) & be the better of the change, and have decent weather.

250In haste | Your affectionately | William Sharp

251ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, [early October, 1881]

25272 Inverness Terrace | London W. | Thursday.

253My dear Rossetti

254Just returned from my “villegiatura”, & don’t relish London again. Have only time to reply by a hasty line to your note received this morning: I regret what I meant in mere fun was so worded as to make you think it possible Lady Paton & the others disliked now the mention of your name. Let me assure you, what I wrote was merely from a kind of high spirits & had no other origin than in my own confounded love of playful badinage. Au contraire, Lady Paton is very glad indeed at her husband having seen you, as it seems to have done him good, & the only sentiment that exists in the family is that of curiosity to see the man and the work of which the head of the family has such a high and enthusiastic opinion. Lady Paton was just saying she felt quite grateful to you for the good you had done Sir Noël.

255As to the letter from the latter, just do as you wish yourself. If you would at all like to keep it, by all means do so.

256Glad you are having fine weather, & hope it will continue, & that you will be ever so much the better of the change.

257In great haste

258Yours ever | William Sharp

259P. S. My address in future will be | 13 Thorngate Road | Sutherland Gardens | W. | altho’the address heading this note will always reach me also, being my “young woman’s”.

260ALS University of British Columbia

To Dante Gabriel Rossetti, December, 1881

261The Fine Art Society, | (Limd). | 148, New Bond St. W. | Dec. 1881

262My dear Rossetti,

263I sincerely hope you are feeling somewhat stronger since I saw you last week – though indeed I was glad to see such a marked change for the better even then. And I trust also that Caine is no longer feeling out of sorts.

264I am now writing to you on a matter of business. You have so long refrained from exhibiting that even your best friends are beginning to despair of any such result. But I think you have somewhat changed your mind about this since your Liverpool success. There could not be a better time than next Spring, if an exhibition is ever to come off at all: and I know how much it will weigh with you when I tell you how earnestly (when I was staying with him last September) Sir Noel Paton hoped such an exhibition would now be no longer deferred, and how he urged upon me to use all my persuasive powers to this effect. He meant to have spoken about it when he saw you last July, but forgot in the pleasure his necessarily brief visit afforded him.

265An Exhibition early in 1882 could not fail to give very great pleasure to all lovers of art, besides giving a great “fillip” to your reputation, adding in consequence much to the commercial value of your work.

  • 79 Marcus Bourne Huish (1843–1921) was an English barrister, writer and art dealer. He edited The Art (...)
  • 80 Frederick James Shields (1833–1911) was a British artist, illustrator and designer closely associa (...)

266Mr. Huish79 has spoken to me with reference hereto, and requests me to write as follows. If you will give your consent to a representative collection of your paintings (say about 15, or from 15 to 20) every assistance will be afforded to you to do so satisfactorily – a well-lit and good-sized gallery would be at your entire disposal, and the hanging could be carried on under whatever superintendence you wished, either by those here including myself (and I could always report and describe to you personally, you know, how matters were) or under the superintendence of Shields80 or whomever else you would appoint. I should think Mr. Graham, Mr. Leland, Mr. Rae, Mr. Craven, Ionides, and others wd. be only too glad to gratify the many who know your works but slightly, and also add much to your own reputation, by lending two or more each for purposes of Exhibition.

267The best time for this would be beginning with March, or no later than April at farthest – so as to give ample time for “the fame thereof to spread abroad” before the artistic and social season is in full swing.

  • 81 Recognized artists whose works were exhibited in the Fine Art Society Gallery: William Holman Hunt (...)

268I need hardly say that every care is taken to prevent damage or loss of any description. There could be no better place for exhibition than the Fine Art Society’s (and I am not saying this simply because I am in it myself) – for it has got a name for having nothing but high-class exhibitions, often undertaken from the reverse of a commercial standpoint, as witness the exhibition at different times of the works of Hunt and Prout, of the Inmer drawings, of those of Millais, of Beurich, and now of those of Samuel Palmer.81

269I know you are not using your hand more than necessary at present – so I can look in to talk this matter over (and which I sincerely trust you will acquiesce in) on either Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday nights of this week –

270Please send a card to say when you wd. like me to come.

  • 82 George Frederick Watts (1817–1904) and Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898).

271I was in at Ellis & White’s today, and your book82 is having a steady sale.

272Ever yrs affectionately | William Sharp

273P. S. I write now, as this is a matter which requires to be settled months beforehand. The Directors have one or two other important intentions in hand, but would be willing to put everything aside for such an Exhibition as yours would be, only they wd. require to know soon. Monetary, or other matters in connection herewith can be better talked over than written about, as I am in haste.

274If you agree, would not it be well to get Watts (the artist) or Burne-Jones,82 or Sir N. Paton to write the notes?

275Pray think favorably of this proposition – & thus both do good to yourself and give long-anticipated pleasure to others.

276W. S.

277ALS University of British Columbia


1 Most of what is known about William Sharp’s early life is contained in William Sharp (Fiona Macleod) A Memoir, compiled by his wife Elizabeth A. Sharp (New York: Duffield & Co., 1910),

2 The first two letters, the earliest that survive and both only fragments, were written to Elizabeth A. Sharp (hereafter E. A. S.) after Sharp returned from Australia and before he settled in London in the spring of 1878. The ellipses indicate deletions by E. A. S. in printing the letters in the Memoir.

3 This early poem has not survived.

4 John Elder was the brother of Adelaide Elder, one of E. A. S.’s closest friends. Their father, Alexander Elder, found an opening for Sharp as a clerk in the London office of the City of Melbourne Bank in Spring 1878, thus enabling him to move to London (Memoir 27). Sharp met Adelaide Elder upon his return from Australia in the summer of 1877. Since John Elder was then in New Zealand for his health, he and Sharp first met in the summer of 1878 and soon became close friends. “John was a graduate of Cambridge, a thinker and man of fine tastes, and his new friend (Sharp) found a great stimulus in the keen mind of the older man” (Memoir 29). Adelaide gave William Sharp a book of Rossetti’s poems, and they led to Sharp’s first visit to Rossetti in Cheyne Walk in September 1879. Although this fragment of a letter is dated October 23, 1880 in the Memoir (31), it was written prior to the publication of Sharp’s sonnet entitled “Religion” in the Examiner in September, 1879.

5 Probably “On Reverence,” which, according to Elizabeth Sharp’s bibliography, was published in The Secular Review on May 17, 1879. There was no Sectarian Review.

6 Ernest Belford Bax (1854–1926) was a barrister, author, musician, and philosopher Along with William Morris, he started the Socialist League. As the first to mount a sustained public campaign soliciting compassion for men and boys while denouncing gynocentric chivalry, he is considered the father of the “men’s rights movement.” As young Londoners, he and Sharp took long walks together in the late 1870s, but they drifted apart in the early eighties. For Bax’s view of Sharp, see his Reminiscences and Reflections of a Mid and Late Victorian (New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1920). His principal works include; Jean-Paul Marat (1878), Kant’s Prolegomena, etc., with Biography and Introduction (1882), Religion of Socialism (1886), The Roots of Reality (1907).

7 “Religion” appeared in The Examiner: A Sunday Paper on Politics, Literature, and Fine Arts (September, 1879).

8 Sharp’s first meeting with Rossetti probably occurred in September 1879 for, as this letter indicates, he was corresponding with him in familiar terms in January, 1880. In 1899 Sharp thanked Adelaide Elder for introducing him to Rossetti’s poetry “two and twenty years ago” (Memoir 35). Miscalculating, E. A. S. set the date of Sharp’s first acquaintance with Rossetti’s work as fall 1879 and of his first meeting with Rossetti as September 1, 1881 (Memoir 36). The 1899 letter to Adelaide Elder and Sharp’s early letters to Rossetti support fall 1877 as the date of Sharp’s discovery of Rossetti’s poetry and fall 1879 as the date of Sharp’s appearance at Rossetti’s door in Cheyne Walk to present him with the letter of introduction from Sir Noel Paton, an event that changed the course of Sharp’s life by providing entrance to the literary and artistic life of London. For more information about Paton, see note to July 25, 1881 letter to Rossetti.

9 “Dance” was not published and has not survived. Rossetti’s “The Card Dealer” (1849) appeared in Poems (1870).

10 Alice Mona Henryson Caird (1854–1932), a novelist, critic, social reformer, girlhood friend of E. A. S., was married to James Alexander Henryson Caird of Casseneary, Creeton, Kirkeudbrichtsh on December 19, 1877. They had one son, Major A. H. Caird. Her publications include: Whom Nature Leadeth (1883), The Wings of Azrael (1889), Beyond the Pale: An Appeal on Behalf of the Victims of Vivisection (1897, The Morality of Marriage, and Other Essays on the Status and Destiny of Woman (1897). She was widely known, and by many disdained, for advocating changes in the marriage laws to grant women greater equality. E. A. S. dated this letter February 23, 1880, but it was written soon after Sharp’s memorable private dinner with Rossetti on Friday, January 30. The invitation to that dinner prevented Sharp from continuing a letter to Mona Caird, and this letter describes the evening with Rossetti.

11 The completed “House of Life” was published in Ballads and Sonnets (London: Ellis and White, 1881). Sharp said the sonnet sequence “is, in the main, a record of individual emotions suggested by the presence and absence of embodied love… – a House, not of Life, but of Love…. [They] are the record of what a poet-soul has felt, and we see that love meant with him a dream of happiness while present, a dream of regret and a sense of frustration when passed away, but not that it inspired him to action or made his ideals more impersonal, or gave his aspirations wings to escape from the desolate haunts of sorrow and despondency and vague half-real hopes. Therefore, it is not so much that Love was the soul of his genius, as that his genius lived and had its being in the shadow of Love” (Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study, 408–10).

12 Philip Bourke Marston (1850–1887) was a close friend of Rossetti and Sharp. After Marston’s early death, Sharp edited and wrote introductory Memoirs to Marston’s For a Song’s Sake and Other Stories (London: Walter Scott, 1887) and Song Tide (London: Walter Scott, 1888). See note to Sharp’s April 22, 1880 letter to Swinburne.

13 Watts-Dunton (1832–1914,) a poet, critic, and novelist, was a close friend of Rossetti. Theodore Watts (1832–1914) became Theodore Watts-Dunton in 1898. In 1879, he and Swinburne took up residence at The Pines, Putney, where they lived until Swinburne’s death in 1909. Watts-Dunton’s publications include: The Coming of Love (1898), Aylwin (1899), Rossetti and Charles Wells (1908), The Poetry of the Renascence of Wonder (1916,) Vesprie Towers (1916), and Old Familiar Faces (1916).

14 Moncure D. Conway’s “William Kingdon Clifford” was tenth in the “Leaders of Modern Thought” series in Modern Thought, II (Feb. 1, 1880), 293–99. Clifford (1845–1879) was a mathematician, philosopher, and expert in classical and literary studies. His interest in Christian scholastic dogma was dispelled by his study of Darwin and Herbert Spencer. He was a follower of Berkeley and Hume and radically opposed the Hegelians. His posthumously published works include: Lectures and Essays, ed. F. Pollock and L. Stephen (1879), Common Sense of the Exact Sciences, ed. & partly written by Karl Pearson (1885), and several mathematical studies.

15 Dr. James Martineau (1805–1900) was a Unitarian minister, a respected theologian, and a Professor of Philosophy in Manchester New College, the seminary in which he had been educated. He was the younger brother of the essayist and novelist, Harriet Martineau. His principal works are: Religion as Affected by Modern Materialism (1874), Modern Materialism (1876), Hours of Thought on Sacred Things (last series, 1876; 2nd series, 1879), Ideal Substitutes for God Considered (1879).

16 This letter precedes an undated letter to Rossetti in the Memoir (40–41) which responds to Rossetti’s criticism of Sharp’s sonnets.

17 Philip Bourke Marston.

18 Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853–1931,) who later became a popular novelist, was a close companion of Rossetti in 1881 and 1882. Rossetti had suggested Sharp submit one or two sonnets for publication in Caine’s Sonnets of Three Centuries (1882). Although Rossetti found fault in Sharp’s first effort, two sonnets eventually passed muster and were included in the volume. Caine’s Recollections of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Sharp’s Dante Gabriel Rossetti: A Record and a Study appeared in late 1882 following Rossetti’s death in April. Richard Le Gallienne (Romantic Nineties, 1951, p. 20) recalled Oscar Wilde saying: “Whenever a great man dies, Hall Caine and William Sharp go in with the undertakers.” To be sure, both writers were anxious to capitalize on their close relationship with Rossetti, but both books contain useful information.

19 William Michael Rossetti (1829–1919) was Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s brother. His wife, Emma Lucy (1843–1894), was the daughter of the painter Ford Madox Brown, and she was also a painter. William Michael was educated at King’s College School, London, and entered the Excise Office in 1845. His publications include Lives of Famous Poets (1878), The Life of Keats (1887), Dante G. Rossetti as Designer and Writer (1895), Memoir of Dante G. Rossetti (1895), and Some Reminiscences (1906). He edited works by the pre-Raphaelites, the romantic poets, and Chaucer’s Troylus and Criseyde.

20 This letter was transcribed and published in The Sexual Tensions of William Sharp by Terry L. Meyers (New York: Peter Lang, 1996). Meyers states that arrangements were made for Phillip Marston to take Sharp to meet Swinburne at his home in Putney, probably in June, 1880. Meyers also reproduces a previously unpublished poem that accompanied this letter: “To Mr. A. C. Swinburne.” The manuscript poem is housed in the Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin where its authorship was previously unknown. This transcription of the letters is from a photocopy of the manuscript.

21 Philip Bourke Marston (1850–1887), the son of John Westland Marston, a wellknown man of letters, was blinded at the age of three by the administration of belladonna in an effort to cure scarlet fever. He began writing poetry at an early age and published his first volume (Song-Tide and Other Poems, 1871) when he was twenty-one; his second (All in All: Poems and Sonnets, 1875) four years later; and a third (Wind Voices) in 1883. By then he had become a favored member of the circle of young men around Dante Gabriel Rossetti who introduced him to William Sharp in 1880. The two men became fast friends. Following Marston’s death Sharp published a selection of his poems with an introductory Memoir in his Canterbury Poets Series (Song-Tide: Poems and Lyrics of Love’s Joy and Sorrow) and a collection of his short stories containing the same Memoir (For a Song’s Sake and Other Stories). Both were issued by the Walter Scottfirm in 1888.

22 Robert Edward Francillon (1851–1919), a novelist and journalist, married Rosamund Barnett, the daughter of the musical composer, John Barnett. Between 1872 and 1894 he was on the staffof the Globe. He belonged to a Pre-Raphaelite group which met at the home of Dr. Westland Marston, a dramatist and father of Philip B. Marston, where Rossetti and Swinburne, as well as Richard Garnett, William Morris, and Arthur O’Shaughnessy were often entertained. His works include: Earl’s Dene (1870), Olympia (1874), A Dog and His Shadow (1876), Queen Cophetua (1880), Gods and Heroes, or The Kingdom of Jupiter (1892), Jack Doyle’s Daughter (1894), and Mid-Victorian Memories (1914).

23 Julian Hawthorne (1846–1934), son of Nathaniel Hawthorne, was a novelist, journalist, historical writer, and biographer. He lived in London between 1874 and 1881. His publications include: Saxon Studies (1874), Gath (1875), Archibald Malmaison (1878), Sebastian Strome (1879), Dust (1882), Fortune’s Fool (1883), Biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1885), History of Oregon (1888), and Shapes That Pass: Memories and Meditations (1928.)

24 David Christie Murray (1847–1907), a novelist and journalist, wrote some thirty loosely plotted novels, many drawn from his experience as a reporter. His works include: A Life’s Atonement (1879), Joseph’s Coat (1881), Val Strange (1882), By the Gate of the Sea (1883), Rainbow Gold (1885), Aunt Rachel (1886), Autobiography: A Novelist’s Notebook (1887), and Recollections (1908).

25 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882), this poem was the subject of an exchange of correspondence between Sharp and Violet Paget (“Vernon Lee”) on the appropriate subject matter of poetry.

26 Rossetti’s written response to these two poems – “Motherhood” and “The Dead Bridegroom” – is contained in a letter from Rossetti to Sharp dated January 1881 (Memoir 44).

27 Eugene Jacob Lee-Hamilton (1845–1907) was a poet-novelist and the half-brother of Violet Paget who published under the pseudonym “Vernon Lee.” In 1873 he was incapacitated by a nervous disease that kept him bed-ridden and completely dependent on his mother and half-sister until 1893–94 when, following his mother’s death, he made an unexpected and complete recovery. He traveled to America in 1898 where he married the novelist, Annie E. Holdsworth, and returned with her to his mother’s villa outside Florence. In later life, Eugene Lee-Hamilton and Violet Paget were almost entirely estranged. His works include Poems and Transcripts (1878); Gods, Saints, and Men (1880); The New Medusa (1882); Apollo and Marsyas (1884); Imaginary Sonnets (1888); The Fountain of Youth (1891); Sonnets of the Wingless Hours (1894) The Lord of the Dark Red Star (1903); Dramatic Sonnets, Poems, and Ballads, edited by William Sharp for the Canterbury Poets series in 1903; The Romance of the Fountain (1905); and Mimma Bella (1908).

28 Probably Gods, Saints, and Men.

29 Frederic James Shields (1833–1911), a painter and illustrator influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, was a friend of Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, John Ruskin, William Holman Hunt, and Edward Burne-Jones. His most important work, begun in 1889 and finished a few months before his death, was a pictorial decoration of the walls in the Chapel of the Ascension on Bayswater Road in London.

30 Shortly after Sharp settled in London in the late spring of 1878, Alexander Elder, the father of Adelaide and John Elder, found him a position in the City of Melbourne Bank where he was bound as a clerk for three years. His banking career ended in August, 1891, when it became clear to him and his employers that he was unsuited to the work (Memoir 27, 53–54).

31 Auguste Comte (1789–1857) attempted to transform philosophy into religion by substituting the worship of humanity for the worship of God. His principal works include Cours de philosophie positive (1830–42), Catéchisme positiviste (1852), Système de politique positive (1851–54), Calendrier positiviste (1849).

32 Published in Sharp’s first volume of poems, The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882).

33 Brackets as written. The ballad was probably “The Son of Allen” which Sharp included in Romantic Ballads and Poems of Phantasy (London: Walter Scott, 1889).

34 Arthur O’Shaughnessy (1844–1881) was the author of four volumes of poetry. A brother-in-law of Philip Bourke Marston, he was employed in the British Museum’s Department of History. He died on Sunday, January 30, 1881, which dates this letter Thursday, February 3.

35 Probably “The Son of Allan.”

36 Philip Bourke Marston.

37 Olivia Narney [Singleton] Garnett(d. 1903) was the wife of Richard Garnett (1835–1906), author and Keeper of Printed Books at the British Museum where he worked from 1851–1899. Her husband, considered “the ideal librarian,” published extensively in both verse and prose and is best known for Relics of Shelley (1862) and The Twilight of the Gods (1903). She was also the mother of Edward Garnett(1868–1937). A well-known author and dramatist, he published A Censured Play: The Breaking Point (1907); Turgenef (1917); and Papa’s War (1919). He was married to Constance (Black) Garnett(1862–1946), the highly-regarded translator of major Russian novelists.

38 This letter was sent to Elizabeth Sharp while she was in Italy during the early months of 1881.

39 Joaquin Miller (1841–1913) was the pseudonym of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, “The Byron of Oregon.” A horse thief, Portland lawyer, pony-express messenger, and newspaper editor, Miller fascinated the English who considered him “the frontier poet.” His works include: Specimens (1868), Joaquin, et al. (1860), Pacific Poems (1890), Songs of the Sierra (1877), a Mormon play called The Danites of the Sierras (1877), an autobiographical Life Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History (1873), and Memorie and Rime (1884).

40 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882). Eugene Lee-Hamilton and Violet Paget saw the poem in manuscript. Elizabeth probably showed it to them while she was in Italy.

41 This poem was never published (see Memoir 45.)

42 Eugene Lee-Hamilton’s first book of poems, Poems and Transcripts (1878).

43 Published in The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882).

44 Violet Paget (1856–1937), daughter of Matilda [Adams] Lee-Hamilton Paget and Henry Ferguson Paget and half-sister of Eugene Lee-Hamilton, was a prolific writer of fiction and works of history, philosophy, and sociology. She chose the pseudonym Vernon Lee, at the start of her career. Vernon reflects her desire to be taken seriously as a “male” writer, and “Lee” the influence of her older half-brother on her intellectual development. It was widely known in literary circles that Vernon Lee was Violet Paget. Her major works include Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy (1880), a pioneering work that brought to light the spontaneous national movement that developed in the music and drama of eighteenth-century Italy; Euphorion (1884); its sequel; Renaissance Fancies and Studies (1895); Genius Loci (1899); and The Spirit of Rome (1906).

45 Agnes Mary Frances Robinson (1857–1944) was the daughter of George Robinson, a London banker who was well known in the literary world of the eighties and nineties. He frequently entertained such luminaries as Henry James, Oscar Wilde, George Moore, and Thomas Hardy. Agnes began writing poetry at an early age and published her first book of poetry, A Handfull of Honeysuckle, in 1878 when she was twenty-one. That was followed by The Crowned Hippolytus of Euripides: With New Poems in 1881. In 1882 she married James Darmesteter, a well-known French orientalist, and moved to France. Her third book of poetry, An Italian Garden: A Book of Songs, appeared in 1886. After Darmesteter died in 1894, she married Emile Duclaux, Director of the Pasteur Institute. Her Collected Poems were published in 1901, and she continued writing poetry, much of it influenced by the horrors of both World Wars, until her death in 1944.

46 “Hand and Soul,” a prose tale by D. G. Rossetti published in The Germ in January 1849, tells the story of a painting called “Figura Mistica di Chiaro dell’Erma.” The tale describes a young man obsessed with art who imitates others to win the fame he so passionately desires. The allegory is centered on the figure of a lady who appears in a vision and instructs the young artist to paint her, saying “I am an image, Chiaro, of thine own soul within thee.”

47 See March 10,1881 letter to Eugene Lee-Hamilton.

48 The reference is to a controversy over an article, “The Fleshly School of Poetry,” which Robert Buchanan published under the pseudonym Thomas Maitland in the Contemporary Review (October, 1871). Exploiting a Victorian taboo on open sexuality, Buchanan launched a prudish attack on the “fleshly” treatment of physical passion in Pre-Raphaelite art, denouncing Swinburne and Rossetti for their degenerative influence on public morals. In a pamphlet called “Under the Microscope,” Swinburne defended himself with an outburst of pornographic invective expressed in pseudo-Biblical language. Rossetti, in “The Stealthy School of Criticism” (Athenaeum, Dec., 1871), answered Buchanan’s charge of “fleshliness”: In my poetry “All the passionate and just delights of the body are declared – somewhat figuratively it is true, but unmistakable – to be as naught if not ennobled by the concurrence of the soul at all times.”

49 Published in 1874.

50 Harry Buxton Forman (1842–1917), known for his painstaking editions of Keats and Shelley, worked for forty-seven years in the postal service and was an early advocate of a post office library, later becoming its secretary. He knew and supported Rossetti, Morris, and Meredith. His early works include: Our Living Poets (1871), the book Sharp refers to here, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Her Scarcer Books (1876). In 1887, in association with a London commodity broker and book collector Thomas James Wise, Forman began publishing what turned out many years later to be forged early editions of British writers. For more information, see

51 Emerson’s “The Poet.”

52 There is no record of its publication.

53 Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy (1880).

54 Sharp did not make his first trip to Italy until 1883 (Memoir 78–79). E. A. S. was in Italy in early 1881 (Memoir 44–49).

55 This edition has not been identified.

56 Christina G. Rossetti’s Poems (1872). Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830–1894) was the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her works include Goblin Market and Other Poems (1862) and A Pageant (1881). She also wrote nursery rhymes like Sing Song (1872), and children’s tales such as Speaking Likenesses (1874). For the last 20 years of her life she produced mostly works with religious themes. These very popular books include Called to Be Saints (1881) and The Face of the Deep: A Devotional Commentary on the Apocalypse (1892).

57 Light of Asia was not written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton but by Sir Edwin Arnold. The full title is The Light of Asia; or, The Great Renunciation – Mahabhinishkramana, Being the Life and Teaching of Gautama… as told in verse by an Indian Buddhist (1879). In it, Arnold attempted “by the medium of an imaginary Buddhist votary to depict the life and character and indicate the philosophy of that noble hero and reformer, Prince Gautama of India, founder of Buddhism.” It appeared in 1879 and was an immediate success, going through numerous editions in England and America. Arnold’s other volumes of poetry: Indian Song of Songs (1875), Pearls of the Faith (1883), With Sadi in the Garden (1888), Potiphar’s Wife (1892), Adzuma, or The Japanese Wife (1893), and Indian Poetry (1904),

58 Sharp seems to be saying that the Tauchnitzedition [Poems, ed. with a Memoir of the author by Franz Huffer (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1873)] is cheaper than the paper edition.

59 Not published.

60 “The Wandering Jew” was not published.

61 Vernon Lee, “A Dialogue on Contemporary Morality,” Contemporary Review, XXXVIV (1881), 682–707. As Sharp proceeds to indicate, Cyril, in this dialogue, was intended to be Sharp, while Baldwin speaks for Violet Paget.

62 “Spring Wind” was published in Sharp’s first collection of poetry, The Human Inheritance; The New Hope; Motherhood (1882) and in T. Hall Caine’s Sonnets of Three Centuries (1882). “A Poet’s Greeting to a Brother Poet” was probably not published.

63 Sir Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901) was a Scottish artist, illustrator and sculptor. He was also a poet who had a deep interest in, and knowledge of, Scottish folklore and Celtic legends. Most of his life was spent in Scotland, but he studied briefly at the Royal Academy in London in 1843 where he met John Everett Millais who asked him to join the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The invitation to be an official member of the Brotherhood was turned down by Paton although he painted in the Pre-Raphaelite style. Noel Paton’s parents were damask designers and weavers, William and Elizabeth Sharp descended from three generations of muslin manufacturers, and the two families were close friends. Noel Paton played an important role in Sharp’s establishment as a writer. He provided the introduction to Danial Gabriel Rossetti, who accepted him into his circle of fellow writers and painters. He was responsible for a letter Sharp received when he was desperately short of money in early 1883. The letter was from an unknown friend who had known his grandfather. In his own words, “He had heard from Sir Noel Paton that I was inclined to the study of literature and art. He therefore enclosed a cheque for two hundred pounds, which I was to spend in going to Italy to pursue my artistic studies” (Memoir 78–79). Sharp went to Italy that spring and immersed himself in the study of Italian Renaissance painters in Florence and Rome,

64 This refers to either Poems or Ballads and Sonnets, both published in London by Ellis and White in 1881. With the exception of four new poems in Poems, both volumes were comprised of previously printed works.

65 Dinah Maria Mulock (1826–1887), the author of John Halifax, Gentleman (1854), married George Lillie Craik in 1864. Sir Noel Paton was a close friend of the Craiks, and he provided Sharp an introduction in 1880. Mrs. Craik was the godmother of Philip Bourke Marston who became a good friend of Sharp after Rossetti introduced them. According to Elizabeth Sharp, Mrs. Craik “had a house in Kent, at Shortlands, and to it she on several occasions invited the two young poets” [Sharp and Marston]. E. A. S. described one such visit in the summer of 1880 during which Sharp contracted a cold that led to rheumatic fever (Memoir 41–42).

66 Since Rossetti had multiple paintings titled Beatrice it is difficult to determine which Sharp refers to here. It is, however, most likely Beata Beatrix (1864), which, along with Dante’s Dream, Sharp considered Rossetti’s finest painting. Rossetti’s paintings are marvelously reproduced and discussed in the Rossetti Archive: “The Rossetti Archive facilitates the scholarly study of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the painter, designer, writer, and translator who was, according to both John Ruskin and Walter Pater, the most important and original artistic force in the second half of the nineteenth century in Great Britain.”

67 Dr. Westland Marston (1819–1890), the father of Sharp’s friend Philip Bourke Marston, was a poetic dramatist, a member of the Dickens circle, editor of the National Magazine in 1837, and a poetry critic for The Athenaeum after 1863. His works include The Patrician’s Daughter (1842), Strathmore (1849), Anne Blake (1853), A Life’s Ransom (1857), A Hard Struggle (1858), Donna Diana (1863), The Favorite of Fortune (1866), Life for Life (1869), and Broken Spells (1873).

68 Possibly the wife of Viscount Stratford Canning, Stratford de Redcliffe (1786–1880). An important diplomat, he served for a time as ambassador in Constantinople. Lady Stratford (de Redcliffe) was born c. 1807 and survived her husband’s death.

69 A portion of this letter appears in the Memoir (55–57).

70 Sir Noel Paton.

71 Philip Bourke Marston.

72 Rossetti created three paintings titled Dante’s Dream. The first is a watercolor from 1855, and the second, to which Sharp is referring here, is an oil from 1871. It is, according to Sharp’s book on Rossetti, the artist’s largest painting, and its full title is Dante’s Dream at the Time of the Death of Beatrice. It can be seen here: The third Dante’s Dream is an oil from 1878.

73 Sir Noel Paton.

74 Raphael’s Sistine Madonna (1513), which is at the Gemaldegalerie in Dresden.

75 Frederick James Shields.

76 Noel Paton’s sister, Amelia Robertson Paton (1820–1904), was a portrait painter and sculptor. Her early works consisted mainly of portraits of family and friends, but her professional career flourished after she married, at age forty-two, David Octavius Hill (1802–1870), an Edinburgh landscape painter who was the first to use photography as an aid to painting. A highly respected sculptor, Paton was deeply involved in the artistic and intellectual life of Edinburgh. She sculpted busts of many Scottish dignitaries and created the statue of David Livingston in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh, and that of Robert Burns in Dumfries. The Paton and Sharp families were friends, and Elizabeth and Amelia were especially close,

77 Probably The Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Mary Shelley and published by Edward Moxon (London: 1839).

78 Either Poems or Ballads and Sonnets.

79 Marcus Bourne Huish (1843–1921) was an English barrister, writer and art dealer. He edited The Art Journal from 1881 to 1893, and he was the Director of the Fine Art Society at the time of this letter. Sharp had a temporary position at the Society’s gallery in New Bond Street. He was hired for just six months “to form a section dealing with old German and English Engravings and Etchings,” and he lost that position when the Society decided not to form the section. Had he been successful in urging Rossetti to agree to an exhibition in the gallery, he may well have been hired on a more permanent basis to organize that exhibit.

80 Frederick James Shields (1833–1911) was a British artist, illustrator and designer closely associated with the Pre-Raphaelites.

81 Recognized artists whose works were exhibited in the Fine Art Society Gallery: William Holman Hunt (1827–1910), Samuel Prout (1783–1852), John Everett Millais (1829–1896), and Samuel Palmer (1805–1881).

82 George Frederick Watts (1817–1904) and Edward Burne-Jones (1833–1898).

Table des illustrations

Légende Fig. 1. Dante Gabriel Rossetti in 1850 at age 22. A portrait by William Holman Hunt (c.1883), Wikimedia,​wiki/​File:William_Holman_Hunt_-_Portrait_of_Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_at_22_years_of_Age_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg, Public Domain.
Fichier image/jpeg, 92k
Légende Fig. 2. An albumen print of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Taken by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (1863), Wikimedia,​wiki/​File:Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_001.jpg, Public Domain.
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k


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