Remarkably, there has been only one biography of Ford Madox Brown in the past century and none at all of the four women in his life, his two wives, Elisabeth Bromley and Emma Hill, and his secret passions, the artist Marie Spartali and the author Mathilde Blind. All four were remarkable women, from very different backgrounds, striving for self-expression in an age that sought to suppress them. Madox Brown himself was always an outsider and refused to join any group - even the Pre-Raphaelites with whom he was so closely associated, and the women he loved burst out of received stereotypes, telling us much about women's journey towards modern roles.
Elisabeth Bromley was born in 1818, the year Mary Shelley published Frankenstein; Marie Spartali died in 1927, a year before all women won the vote. Their lives - full of passion, sexual longing, tragedy and determination - take us from the English countryside and the artist's studio, to a Europe in turmoil and revolution.
These are not silent muses hidden in the shadow of the 'Master'. They step out of the shadows and into the picture, speaking with voices we can hear and understand. Romantic and illuminating, richly illustrated throughout, Into the Frame is a rare opportunity to explore a fascinating area of Victorian bohemianism, based on new research and written with verve and sympathy.