Kathryn Hughes is Professor of Life Writing at the University of East Anglia. Her books include Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, George Eliot: The Last Victorian, and The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton. (October 2019)


Private Lives

From back center to right, Daphne, Sydney, Noel, Margery, and Brynhild Olivier at a picnic, Hampshire, 1910

The Olivier Sisters: A Biography

by Sarah Watling
On a bright Somerset day in September 1909, a group of lucky young people discussed their future. Intoxicated by the way that they had already managed to create for themselves “splendid lives—with Art and Friendship and the great blusterous beautiful world about us,” as one of them complacently put it, …

The Inglenooks of Power

John Singer Sargent: The Wyndham Sisters: Lady Elcho, Mrs. Adeane, and Mrs. Tennant, 1899

Those Wild Wyndhams: Three Sisters at the Heart of Power

by Claudia Renton
In February 1899 John Singer Sargent was invited to the Belgravia home of the wealthy Wiltshire landowner Percy Wyndham to meet his three married daughters. Wyndham had commissioned a group portrait of the women as a way of marking a recent advance in the family’s fortunes. For while the sixty-four-year-old …

Happy as a Hedgehog

A colored lithograph from A Book of Nonsense, by Edward Lear, circa 1875

Mr. Lear: A Life of Art and Nonsense

by Jenny Uglow
One day in 1848 Edward Lear, professional traveler, artist, and purveyor of nonsense, entered a small Albanian village and, spotting a stream full of watercress, pulled up a clump to have with his bread and cheese. Excited by the sight of a tubby foreigner eating weeds, local children proceeded to …