Dr Lucy Ella Rose

Research Interests

  • Victorian fiction
  • Visual culture
  • Women’s life writing
  • Readership
  • Creative partnerships, circles and networks
  • Women’s suffrage
  • Feminist and gender theory

Lucy Ella welcomes enquiries from doctoral students interested in working in any of these areas.

Teaching

In 2016-17 I am teaching:

•           Gothic to Goth

•           Understanding Drama

•           Understanding the Novel (convenor)

Affiliations

Lucy Ella  is a member of the British Association for Victorian Studies and of the Pre-Raphaelite Society

Conference Papers

•  BAVS-funded roundtable paper, The Future of the Victorians, BAVS English Shared Futures conference, Newcastle, July 2017: ‘Interdisciplinary Archival Research and the Future of Mary Watts Studies.’

•  Reading Art: Pre-Raphaelite Painting and Poetry, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, May 2016: ‘Reading the Rossettis’ Representations of Women.’

• Silence in the Archives, Wolfson College, University of Oxford, November 2015: ‘The Unpublished Diaries of Mary Seton Watts: Struggles, Subtexts and Silences.’

• International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW): Reassessing Women’s Writing of the 1860s-70s, Canterbury Christ Church University, July 2015: ‘Reassessing Christina Rossetti’s Poems About Death: a Feminist Issue.’

• Victorian Modernities, University of Kent, June 2015: ‘The Rise of the “New Woman” in the Nineteenth Century: the Life and Work of Evelyn De Morgan.’

Public Engagement Talks (selected)

•           Lecture for the series Watts & His Circle, Watts Gallery, Surrey, September 2017: ‘The Wattses and Women’s Suffrage.’

•           Talk at the launch of Surrey Museums Month: Women’s History, Lightbox, Woking, April 2017: ‘Mary Watts: Pioneering Surrey Suffragist.’

•           Lecture for the Pre-Raphaelite Society, The Birmingham and Midland Institute, February 2017: ‘The Art of Evelyn De Morgan: the Metamorphic Mermaid.’

•           Lectures for the History of Art and Design Course: Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists, Watts Gallery, Surrey, May 2016: ‘Elizabeth Siddal’ and ‘Christina Rossetti.’

•           Lecture for the Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey (Autumn Lecture Series), Watts Gallery, Surrey, November 2015: ‘Pre-Raphaelite Poetry and Painting: the Creative Partnership of Christina and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.’

Event Organisation

  • Co-organising conference, Centennial Reflections on Women’s Suffrage and the Arts: Local, National, Transnational, University of Surrey, 2018.
  • Co-organising Surrey University’s flagship International Women’s Day event, Ferguson’s Gang, 2018. 
  • Academic Advisor on the Mary Watts and Suffrage display, Watts Gallery, 2018.

Exhibitions

Rose wrote text for the exhibitions William and Evelyn De Morgan (2012 – 2013) and The Making of Mary Seton Watts (2013 – 2014) at Watts Gallery, and gave the first of the Curators' Tours of the latter.

Contact Me

E-mail:
Phone: 01483 68 8825

Find me on campus
Room: 06 AC 05

Publications

Journal articles

  • Rose L. (2018) 'The Forgotten Fraser-Tytler Sister, Christina Liddell'. Open Library of Humanities 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century,
    [ Status: Accepted ]
  • Rose L. (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)'. Taylor & Francis Life Writing, 14 (2), pp. 217-231.

    Abstract

    While much has been written about the famous 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 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.

  • Rose L. (2016) 'Subversive Representations of Women and Death in Victorian Visual Culture:The M/Other" in the Art and Craft of George Frederic Watts and Mary Seton Watts.'. Taylor & Francis Visual Culture in Britain, 17 (1), pp. 47-74.

    Abstract

    This article explores the subversive representations of women and death – and specifically the ‘M/Other’ – by the eminent Victorian artist George Frederic Watts (1817–1904) and his lesser-known wife Mary Seton Watts (née Fraser Tytler, 1849–1938). Using a historicist-feminist approach which combines an awareness of historical context with an application of twentieth-century feminist theory to nineteenth-century visual texts, this paper explores: the neglected works of Mary Watts in relation to the more famous paintings of G.F. Watts; the Wattses’ conjugal creative partnership; their progressive socio-political positions; and their (proto-)feminist works featuring the mother figure. These are all understudied areas in existing scholarship on the Wattses. Through a comparison of Mary and G.F Watts’s visual works in relation to those of their contemporaries, this paper aims to show how the Wattses supported and promoted female emancipation and empowerment through their art, thus reclaiming them as early feminist artists. Central to the originality of this paper is the primary focus on Mary Watts, who has been historically overshadowed by the dominant critical focus on her husband, ‘England’s Michelangelo’; the socio-political (and specifically, feminist) influences, messages, subtexts and functions of her work have never before been explored in detail.

  • Rose L. (2016) 'A Feminist Network in an Artists’ Home: Mary and George Watts, George Meredith, and Josephine Butler'. Taylor & Francis Journal of Victorian Culture, 21 (1), pp. 74-91.

    Abstract

    This interdisciplinary, historicist-feminist paper (combining literary and art historical perspectives as well as an awareness of historical context and an application of recent feminist theory) explores the feminist affiliations of the Victorian artists Mary and George Watts, focusing specifically on their close friendships with the writer and women’s suffrage supporter George Meredith and the women’s rights worker Josephine Butler. It introduces the Wattses’ own anti-patriarchal conjugal creative partnership before investigating their relationships with Meredith and Butler through a reading of Mary Watts’s unpublished and hitherto untranscribed diaries (which record their interactions) as well as a discussion of George Watts’s paintings (particularly his portraits of Meredith and Butler in his ‘Hall of Fame’). This paper thus offers an unprecedented insight into the Wattses’ personal and professional relationships as well as their progressive socio-political positions, reclaiming them as early feminists who were part of a wider emergent feminist community. This paper’s discussion of the Wattses, Meredith, and Butler provides new perspectives on the connections, works, and views of these public literary, artistic, and feminist figures as well as the ways in which they supported and promoted the women’s rights movement that escalated over the course of the second half of the nineteenth century. It thus offers a fuller understanding of these figures as well as of the rise of early feminism in the Victorian period.

  • Rose L. (2016) 'The Unpublished Diaries of Mary Seton Watts (1849-1938) In the Archives at Watts Gallery, Surrey'. University of Tulsa Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, 35 (2), pp. 521-528.
    [ Status: Accepted ]

Conference papers

  • Rose L. (2017) 'Interdisciplinary Archival Research and the Future of Mary Watts Studies'. Newcastle, UK: BAVS English Shared Futures conference
  • Rose L. (2016) 'Reading the Rossettis’ Representations of Women'. Birmingham, UK: Reading Art: Pre-Raphaelite Painting and Poetry
  • Rose L. (2015) 'The Unpublished Diaries of Mary Seton Watts: Struggles, Subtexts and Silences'. Wolfson College, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK: Silence in the Archives: Censorship and Suppression in Women’s Life Writing in the Long Nineteenth Century
  • Rose L. (2015) 'Reassessing Christina Rossetti’s Poems About Death: a Feminist Issue'. Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK: International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW): Reassessing Women’s Writing of the 1860s-70s
  • Rose L. (2015) 'The Rise of the “New Woman” in the Nineteenth Century: the Life and Work of Evelyn De Morgan'. University of Kent, Canterbury, UK: Victorian Modernities

Books

  • Rose L. (2017) Suffragist Artists in Partnership: Gender, Word and Image. Edinburgh University Press

    Abstract

    This is the first book dedicated to examining the marital relationships of Mary and George Watts and Evelyn and William De Morgan as creative partnerships. The study demonstrates how they worked, individually and together, to support greater gender equality and female liberation in the nineteenth century. The author traces their relationship to early and more recent feminism, reclaiming them as influential early feminists and reading their works from twentieth-century theoretical perspectives. By focusing on neglected female figures in creative partnerships, the book challenges longstanding perceptions of them as the subordinate wives of famous Victorian artists and of their marriages as representatives of the traditional gender binary. This is also the first academic critical study of Mary Watts’s recently published diaries, Evelyn De Morgan’s unpublished writings and other previously unexplored archival material by the Wattses and the De Morgans.

  • Greenhow D. (2016) The Diary of Mary Watts 1887-1904: Victorian Progressive and Artistic Visionary. Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd

    Abstract

    Mary Watts (1849-1938) was a leading designer of the Arts & Crafts period, the founder of the Compton Pottery and the wife of the great Victorian painter George Frederic Watts (1817-1904). She was also an avid diarist and filled copious volumes - each known affectionately as 'Fatima' - with her musings on art and society and her day-to-day life with an artist at the height of his powers. Never previously published, due to the tiny, almost illegible handwriting, the diary volumes have now been painstakingly transcribed by Desna Greenhow, who has extracted the most illuminating passages for reproduction here. Including detailed annotations, an introductory essay and short writings at the start of each year represented, this book chronicles life in the artistic, literary and political circles of the time, while also providing invaluable insights into Mary's own achievements - most notably her management of the building and decorating of her unique Watts Cemetery Chapel. For all those fascinated by the Wattses and the society in which they lived, this is an invaluable resource that makes an important contribution to nineteenth-century studies.

Book chapters

  • Rose L. (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 James F, North J (eds.) Writing Lives Together: Romantic and Victorian auto/biography Routledge , pp. 85-100.

    Abstract

    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.

  • Rose L. (2013) 'The Creative Partnership of Mary and George Watts'. in McMahon M (ed.) The Making of Mary Seton Watts Surrey, UK : Watts Gallery

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