This is the sort of post I adore writing because it is to do with a forthcoming book. For a while now I have been working on my research on Mary Hillier, maid and model to Julia Margaret Cameron and the part that she played in Julia's photography. I have also been fascinated with Julia's spirit, her attitude to life and her work, and so I am now delighted to announce that I will be publishing a biography of Julia and Mary in 2020, entitled Light and Love...
|The Kiss of Peace (1869) Julia Margaret Cameron|
I had intended to write a straightforward biography, but the more work I did, the more I found that Julia's life before Mary foreshadowed the impact that the two women would have on each other. I wanted to explore the path that brought the two together and what happened when the two women parted. As is ever the case with models, it has often been expressed that Mary's life only had interest when she was in front of the lens, but her life after the photographs was as eventful as the years she spent posing.
|Call, I Follow, I Follow, Let Me Die! (1867) Julia Margaret Cameron|
In my book I want to explore the tension of 'celebrity' in Freshwater, the impact of the influx of the mainland into the village and how royalty and money, as well as bankruptcy and criminality, followed. Mary, barely into her teens, combined the role of domestic maid with being the epitome of beauty for an artist and became the face of the inception of the blending of art and photography. What brought Julia to that point, what informed her ideals of beauty so that they could be fulfilled by a girl from an island village?
|Mary Hillier (1860s) Julia Margaret Cameron|
When Julia returned to Ceylon, what became of Mary? What impact did her life in front of the lens have on her later life? Mary Hillier's life after Julia demonstrates the creative process and its legacy in all it touches in both wonderful and tragic ways. She lived long enough to see her face rediscovered for a new generation, healing after the First World War, and to have her life interpreted for the amusement of the Bloomsbury set.
|Light and Love (1865) Julia Margaret Cameron|
Lushly illustrated with Julia Margaret Cameron's beautiful photographs, this will be a book as beautiful as both women deserve. This is the biography of two lives, clashing cultures, dangerous chemicals, triumph, tragedy and an awful lot of love.
Light and Love will be published by Unicorn in Autumn 2020.