A chance encounter sent Josceline Dimbleby on a search to discover the truth about her great-grandmother, May Gaskell, her tragic daughter Amy, and the famous painter Edward Burne-Jones. She met Andrew Lloyd Weber at a party and talked to him about a dark, mysterious Burne-Jones portrait he possessed. The subject was Amy, who, according to family lore, 'died young of a broken heart'. In her search to find out more, she came across a family cache of unpublished letters from Burne-Jones to May Gaskell which exposes a passionate correspondence, of up to five letters a day, throughout the last six years of the pre-Raphaelite painter's life. As she delved deeper, more and more unanswered questions were revealed: why did Burne-Jones feel he had to protect May from an overwhelming sadness? What was the 'profound secret' she had confided to him? What was the tragic truth behind May's beautiful daughter Amy's wayward, wandering life, her strange marriage, and her unexplained death.
In piecing together the romantic, poignant story of her own great-grandmother, Josceline Dimbleby brings to life a most turbulent period in English history, visiting the most far-flung corners of the Empire, covering the Boer War and the Great War, peopled by bohemian artists and tortured gentry, lonely colonial civil servants, and dashing socialites; the Souls, William Morris, Rudyard Kipling and William Gladstone.
Josceline Dimbleby is the author of many bestselling cookery books and a winner of the Andre Simon and Glenfiddich Cookery foodwriters awards. She wrote a cookery column for the Sunday Telegraph for fifteen years. She recently turned away from the cookery in favour of travel writing and has written travel pieces for the Mail on Sunday, Conde Naste Traveller and Sainsburys magazine.