From the Witch’s Bedtable


Here’s what I’m reading lately. What’s on your bedtable?

* Many other women would contribute to the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Most were sisters or daughters of male artists: in addition to Christina Rossetti, Rosa Brett (1829-82), the sister of John Brett, created a small corpus of works of hypnotic intensity, but abandoned her art when expected to fulfil a domestic role within her family. By contrast, the life of Jane Burden (1839-1914) was closer to that of Siddal. Born the daughter of an Oxford stableman, she was discovered as what they called a ‘stunner’, or distinctive beauty by a group of young men whom Rosetti had gathered to work collaboratively on a mural scene for the Oxford Union building. She soon married Morris, who had painted her as La Belle Iseult and, in collaboration with her sister Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Burden, developed an artistic identity as the creator of subtle and ambitious works of embroidery. Women played a key role in the revival of the applied arts and crafts in the Morris circle, working both as designers and as expert practitioners of many craft skills. William and Jane Mossis’s younger daughter, May (1862-1938) became a leading exponent of revivalist needlecraft, the author of important publications, such as the illustrated Decorative Needlework (1893), and an active socialist.

~ Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design by T. Barringer, J. Rosenfeld, and A. Smith.

* Eudora noticed the spread of camellias through her home state, with certain towns known for their particular flower. In 1942 she wrote to Diarmuid, “When you go around the countryside you see that each community of any age has its own variety, grown from seed by some lady once and cuttings given away, and there you will see a great parent bush in some yard and little and middle-sized ones scattered in the yards aroun it, all a camellia known only to the one place. I am trying to collect cuttings of the ones that are the nicest and after years by by I’ll have them all in one place — whatever kind of instinct that may be.

~ One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown.

* Top [Rosetti’s wombat] came into a glorious menagerie. Into a prosperous Bohemian household where ghosts jostled with racoons, and antique Persian carpets with the latest fashion in fabrics on Rosetti’s lady sitters; where prostitutes became virgins and poisons became medicines.

~ Rosetti’s Wombat: Pre-Raphaelites and Australian Animals in Victorian England by John Simons.

* Grandpa belonged to the farm, the barns and fields, the pastures and crops, the animals. The farm had been his life, his passion and his trial. The economy of the farm, depending as it did on markets and the money economy, had been during most of his life far less stable and secure than the household economy that depended almost entirely on the place itself. Grandpa’s long effort to possess and thrive on a place whose economy he did not in the least control had been inevitably a trial. But insecurely as the farm belonged to him, he had belonged absolutely to it. he had been ruled absolutely by his vision of pastures deep in grass, abundant crops, good animals well fed.

~ A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership by Wendell Berry

* Captivity also creates disturbances in intimacy, because if you view the world as a place where everyone is either a victim, a perpetrator, an indifferent or helpless bystander, or a rescuer, there’s no room for relationships of mutuality, for cooperation, for responsible choices. There’s no room to follow agreements through to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. The whole range of cooperative relational skills, and all the emotional fulfillment that goes with them, is lost. And that’s a great deal to lose.

~ Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture by Derrick Jensen

Photo of camellia from her garden by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

3 responses to “From the Witch’s Bedtable

  1. aquilakahecate

    I’ma one-book-at-a-time reader. Currently, the one book is “Snuff” by Terry Pratchett. It follows another go at getting through the incredibly depressing complete works of Lovecraft, and as an antidote has done a great job!
    Terri in Joburg

  2. Why Buddha Touched the Earth: Zen Paganism for the 21st Century by Tom Swiss. I am about 4 chapters in and enjoying myself so far. Always love it when a (non-fiction) book makes me laugh out loud. 🙂

  3. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, Sacred Clowns by Tony Hillerman, The Dead Are Alive: They Can and Do Communicate With You by Harold Sherman. And, re-reading for the nth time: The Spiral Dance by Starhawk. Just because 😉

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