Guinevere

Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale, ROI, RWS, 1871-1945

Water-colour illustration / colour plate

1901

Source: Brickdale 132

Lines printed with the title: "Her memory, from old habit of mind / Went slipping back upon the golden days / In which she saw him first, when Launcelot came" (from Tennyson's Guinevere). Anthony Harrison talks of the "extraordinarily wide dissemination" of Tennyson's Idylls of the King (605), and it enjoyed tremendous success throughout the period, despite the poet's traditionalist stance in Guinevere. William Morris's "The Defence of Guenevere" put a different complexion on her adultery. Harrison notes that it was too radical for most readers when first published (1858), but became influential later. Brickdale's representation of her, as beautiful and at one with surrounding nature, seems to confirm a shift in sympathies.

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