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Suffragist Artists in Partnership

Gender, Word and Image

Lucy Ella Rose

Paperback (Forthcoming)
eBook (ePub) i
eBook (PDF) i

Explores the interconnected creative partnerships of the Wattses and De Morgans – Victorian artists, writers and suffragists

This is the first book dedicated to examining the marital relationships of Mary and George Watts and Evelyn and William De Morgan as creative partnerships. The study demonstrates how they worked, individually and together, to support greater gender equality and female liberation in the nineteenth century. The author traces their relationship to early and more recent feminism, reclaiming them as influential early feminists and reading their works from twentieth-century theoretical perspectives. By focusing on neglected female figures in creative partnerships, the book challenges longstanding perceptions of them as the subordinate wives of famous Victorian artists and of their marriages as representatives of the traditional gender binary. This is also the first academic critical study of Mary Watts’s recently published diaries, Evelyn De Morgan’s unpublished writings and other previously unexplored archival material by the Wattses and the De Morgans.

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Introduction: ‘Woman is Now Beginning to Take Her Place’

Part I: Practice, Partnership, Politics 
1. Mary and George Watts
2. Evelyn and William De Morgan
3. Self/Portraits

Part II: Artists’ Writings: Private and Published
4. Women Artists’ Diaries
5. Inscribing the Female Body

Part III: Artists’ Readings: Literary Sources and Subjects
6. Feminist Readings and Poetic Paintings
7. The Metamorphic Mermaid in Fairytales and Feminism


About the Author

Lucy Ella Rose is Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Surrey. Her collaborative doctoral award from the University of Surrey and Watts Gallery supported her research on women in nineteenth-century creative partnerships. A leading Mary Watts scholar, Rose has worked extensively on the Mary Watts archive and assisted the transcription of her diaries. She presents and publishes articles on Victorian literature, art, culture and feminism.


A reassessment of the works of Mary Watts and Evelyn De Morgan is long overdue. Lucy Ella Rose’s captivating book explores how both artists achieve their singularity through collaboration, not only with each other and within their broader female networks, but also through their two-way ‘conjugal creative partnerships’ with their artist husbands, George Frederic Watts and William De Morgan. 

- Hilary Fraser, Birkbeck, University of London

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