John Simons

Rossetti's Wombat

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Rossetti's Wombat tells the story of 'Top', a wombat who lived with the Pre-Raphaelite painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Chelsea for a few months in 1869. The book also describes the strange history of the European fascination with the flora and fauna of Australia, from the late 18th century onwards.By 1860, most well-to-do people could buy a pet kangaroo from a London pet shop – and many of them did. Wombats were rarer and more expensive but the tradition of wombat owning was well established by the turn of the 19th century. Napoleon had a pet wombat, as did the Duke of Edinburgh, so Dante Gabriel Rossetti was in good company when he bought his.Rossetti's Wombat is a light-hearted account of an improbable side of Victorian England. It also examines the way a wombat participated in the delicate relationships between the men and women in the Pre-Raphaelite circle – particularly Rossetti's emotional affair with Jane Morris, wife of his friend and colleague William.Fully illustrated with drawings and etchings of the period, Rossetti's Wombat will appeal to those with an interest in Victorian England and the Pre-Raphaelites, and to wombat lovers everywhere.
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201 printed pages

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