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The Diaries of Mary Seton Watts (1849–1938): A Record of Her Conjugal Creative Partnership with ‘England’s Michelangelo’, George Frederic Watts (1817–1904)

Rose, Lucy Ella (2017) The Diaries of Mary Seton Watts (1849–1938): A Record of Her Conjugal Creative Partnership with ‘England’s Michelangelo’, George Frederic Watts (1817–1904) In: Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian auto/biography. Routledge, pp. 85-100. ISBN 9781138306745

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While much has been written about the eminent Victorian artist George Frederic Watts (1817-1904), dubbed ‘England’s Michelangelo’, the life and works of his wife Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938) are comparatively neglected. Mary was not only an artist and designer but also a writer and diarist, although her (currently unpublished) diaries have never before been studied. This article explores the Wattses’ conjugal creative partnership through a reading of Mary’s diaries covering their marital years (1886-1904), offering an unprecedented insight into their professional and personal relationship. It not only reveals their facilitating roles in each other’s creative practices, but also the tensions and gender-role inversions in their partnership, challenging traditional perceptions of Mary as George’s peripheral, submissive wife. Unlike her self-effacing published biography of George Watts, Mary’s private life writing reveals her role as a respected artistic equal, intellectual companion and even ‘brutal taskmaster’. This article explores the Wattses’ artistic collaborations, joint reading practice, and life/death writing through a reading of Mary’s long-forgotten diaries, which document her approach to marriage, gender, art and literature. It recovers her culturally-important life writing, traces the emergence of her artistic identity and feminist voice, and reclaims her as a remarkable diarist for the first time.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Literature and Languages > English
Authors :
Rose, Lucy
Editors :
James, Felicity
North, Julian
Date : 27 September 2017
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018 Taylor & Francis
Uncontrolled Keywords : 19th Century Literature; Romanticism; Biography & Autobiography; British Literature; Mary Seton Watts; George Frederic Watts; Diary; Creative partnership; Marriage; Art
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 27 Jun 2017 09:51
Last Modified : 06 Jul 2019 05:24

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