Sharp Miracles (or who is Lizzie Siddal?)

Anna’s new poetry chapbook Sharp Miracles is available from Blue Lyra Press and at Amazon. The poems are in the voice of Lizzie Siddal, who was an artist’s model, painter, and poet in the 19th century. If you purchase the book (it’s a 3-in-1 volume!), then go to the BONUS page on Anna’s website, which includes links to the paintings to which some of the poems refer.

In the meantime, here are five things about Lizzie Siddal that also come up in the poems.


#1. Lizzie Siddal married the Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter D.G. Rosetti, but only after he hemmed and hawed because Siddal was working class and his family wouldn’t be keen on the marriage. Rosetti was most productive in his career between the time he met Siddal and the time she died.


#2. Siddal spelled her name with two Ls originally, but husband Dante dropped one.


#3. Siddal is most famous as the model for the paintings by others. Art critic John Ruskin, however, liked Siddal’s own paintings so much that he became her patron, paying her a regular stipend in exchange for much of the work she produced. The pairing above is a self-portrait of Lizzie Siddal.


#4. Siddal was often ill and probably depressed, and laudanum was a common curative then. Laudanum is a tincture of opium with an especially high concentration of morphine as well as all the other opioids like codeine. One night, she took too much of it after dinner. Supposedly as many as four physicians were called to the house to try to revive her, to no avail.


#5. Rosetti was so distraught over the death that he put his journal, which included drafts of his new poems, in the coffin when she was buried. The Victorian Era, in fact, is known for its fascination with death and extravagant displays of grief. When his grief eased a bit, he wanted those poems back. He had her coffin exhumed to retrieve them.

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