The Order of Release: The Story of John Ruskin, Effie Gray and John Everett Millais. Told for the First Time in Their Unpublished Letters

The Order of Release: The Story of John Ruskin, Effie Gray and John Everett Millais. Told for the First Time in Their Unpublished Letters

The Order of Release: The Story of John Ruskin, Effie Gray and John Everett Millais. Told for the First Time in Their Unpublished Letters

The Order of Release: The Story of John Ruskin, Effie Gray and John Everett Millais. Told for the First Time in Their Unpublished Letters

Excerpt

This is a story of two men of genius and a beautiful woman, a story that has been often told and retold in biographies and in less ambitious books with varying degrees of inaccuracy to fulfil the purpose of the author.

The true story is here told for the first time, based on hitherto unpublished letters.

My grandmother, Effie Gray, was married in 1848 at the age of twenty to John Ruskin, already famous as an art critic and author. The marriage was annulled six years later, and Effie Gray (she resumed her maiden name) married John Everett Millais, then in the front rank of English painters and the most gifted member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which had been founded by Holman Hunt, Rossetti and himself.

It was inevitable that a social drama in which two such men were involved should attract a large and attentive audience. It was also inevitable that Ruskin would find champions who would fix the blame for his disastrous marriage on his wife.

The account offered to and accepted by readers of books about Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites is that Ruskin's mother, in her desire to hold her famous son, chose for him a wife who would be safe and manageable, that her choice unfortunately fell on a shallow and unaffectionate girl, and that, in his greatness of heart, Ruskin freed her to marry Millais, with whom she had fallen in love.

More extravagant versions are that Effie Gray's father contrived her first marriage as a step towards obtaining financial assistance from Ruskin's father, and that Millais and Effie Gray ran away together when Ruskin's conduct become unbearable.

The high-water mark of embellishment was reached a few years ago in an American film which depicted John Ruskin as best man at Millais's wedding.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.