This volume is part of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh critical edition, which brings together all Waugh's published and previously unpublished writings for the first time with comprehensive introductions and annotation, and a full account of each text's manuscript development and textual variants. The edition's General Editor is Alexander Waugh, Evelyn Waugh's grandson and editor of the twelve-volume Personal Writings sequence. This, Waugh's first published book, marked the centenary of the birth of the painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882). Waugh was fascinated by the bohemian lives of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, and by his own family connection with them (William Holman Hunt had married, successively, two cousins of his grandfather). Rossetti is both compassionate towards its subject and critical of his self-destructive nature. The incisive analysis of Rossetti's painterly techniques contributed to the resurgence of public interest in Rossetti's art and poetry.
The biography was also an early expression of Waugh's lifelong interest in narrative art, and laid the foundations for his own belief in the importance of the spiritual as well as the aesthetic vision of the artist. Although Rossetti was hastily compiled, it is nevertheless elegant and witty.
Michael G. Brennan was educated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and has taught at the University of Leeds since 1984. His research interests encompass the sixteenth, seventeenth, and twentieth centuries and he has published books on the writings and public careers of the Sidneys of Penshurst between 1500 and 1700, Renaissance travel writings, and the interaction of religion and literary creativity in the works of Graham Greene, George Orwell, and Evelyn Waugh.
He has also recently published a book on Graham Greene and politics.