Queer Tombs and Reframing Doom: Elizabeth Siddal and Georgiana Burne-Jones's unfinished collaborative project

Nat Reeve

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Though Elizabeth Siddal and Georgiana Burne-Jones never finished writing and illustrating ‘a book of Fairy Tales’ together, both made contributions to the project. Its incompleteness opens these contributions to creative readings which foreground the queerness of their relationship with the format in which they do not entirely partake. My essay explores these multi-disciplinary remnants, focusing on Burne-Jones’s drawing Death and the Lady (1861) and Siddal’s poem ‘True Love’ (c.1860–2). Working with queer theory and close reading, I examine the works’ responses to the pictorial and literary traditions informing them. The works explore doomed medievalist ‘Ladies’, overhauling medieval precedents and disrupting ballad narratives to consider how their ‘Ladies’ might thrive between disaster and consequence. Siddal and Burne-Jones’s engagement with impending doom speaks to nineteenth-century (and contemporary) concerns: the works reflect on how to respond to disaster, and whether there are less frightening, more productive ways of framing uncertainty, disruption and incompleteness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPre-Raphaelite Sisters: Art, Poetry and Female Agency in Victorian Britain
EditorsGlenda Youde, Robert Wilkes
PublisherPeter Lang
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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