At fifteen, Georgiana MacDonald (later Burne-Jones) (1840-1920) was, by
several years, the youngest contributor to The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine. She met Morris, Burne-Jones, and the rest of the set through her
brother Henry, who knew them at Oxford. Georgiana and Burne-Jones were
engaged in June, 1856, and married in 1860. Georgiana’s biography of her
husband is one of the most important sources for information about the
This story, Georgiana’s first contribution, should be read at least in part
biographically. In 1856 Burne-Jones left Oxford to become a painter, moving
to an apartment nearby the MacDonalds (Memorials 132). Henry Radcliffe, the story’s
protagonist, follows a similar path. The relationship in this story between
Mary Stanfield and the consumptive Richard Merton could also be read as a
depiction of Burne-Jones’s courtship of Georgiana.
This story, in particular the final paragraphs depicting Radcliffe’s
painting, may owe some debt to Rossetti’s Hand and Soul. Morris and
Burne-Jones knew this story from The Germ, which they had read the year
before, and it is likely Georgiana read the story as well.
First printed in
The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine
, May, 1856.