Victorian relationship counselling

Above: Naworth Castle, Cumbria.

“Rosalind (Howard) came from the intellectual, original, fearsomely quarrelsome Liberal aristocracy, the family that also nurtured Bertrand Russell…Her conversation was “like a flow of lava”, which must have made Morris feel nostalgic for Iceland…

…Both Ned and Georgie (Burne-Jones) were naturally reticent but each separately found Rosalind easy to confide in. Indeed from both of them she demanded utmost truth, understanding more than anyone the depths of Georgie’s fortitude in the face of such great hurt and, at one stage, turning on Ned in anger, reducing him to tears, explanations, repentances and tenderness, in the course of an hour-long scene.

Over the next few years she was also kind to Janey (Morris), removing the children to Naworth in her illnesses…Janey was touched and grateful at her patronage, but daunted. Rosalind’s “bright presence” and the natural rapport between Rosalind and Georgie, two such strong-minded and articulate young women, tended to make her feel a burden, an outsider, socially and intellectually inadequate.

Rosalind and Morris had approached each other gingerly…”

Fiona MacCarthy: William Morris (1994) Chapter Ten: Kelmscott Manor 1871-75

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