Suzanne Fagence Cooper spent 12 years as a curator and research fellow, studying the Victorian collections of the V&A Museum. She has written several books and essays on the Pre-Raphaelites and Victorian women. Her knowledge of 19th century art has led her to work as a consultant for BBC TV and radio. She lives in Yorkshire.
‘Meticulously researched and yet touchingly personal... We known so much about Ruskin and Millais - so little about the most influential woman in their lives. Effie’s story is emblematic of the struggle of Victorian women’ Emma Thompson
‘Effie Gray’s story is extraordinary and Cooper feasts upon it with appetite...I cannot recommend Fagence Cooper's biography of Effie Gray more highly to anyone with a heart, a liking for a good read and an interest in things Victorian’ Henrietta Garnett Literary Review
Effie Gray was at the centre of Victorian England’s most scandalous love triangle, involving two giants of the art world. In 1854, refusing to tolerate her increasingly abusive first marriage to John Ruskin, the leading art critic of the time, she requested an annulment. Later she was able to rebuild her self-esteem and reputation and to find happiness with the painter John Everett Millais, Ruskin’s acclaimed protégé.
Suzanne Fagence Cooper has gained exclusive access to Effie’s extensive and previously unseen letters and diaries to reveal the reality behind this great Victorian love story. A major critical reassessment of the Victorian art world, the book addresses the careers of Ruskin and Millais from a new angle, with Effie emerging as a key figure in the artistic development of both men. Effie, her sisters and daughters appear in many of Millais’ most haunting images, embodying Victorian society’s fears about female sexuality and freedom. The Model Wife is a compelling portrait of the extraordinary woman behind some of the most beautiful and celebrated pre-Raphaelite paintings.