The wife of the prominent Victorian painter of seascapes, James Clarke Hook (1819-1907), Rosalie was a trained artist herself, and brought her artist's sensibility, her humour, and her talent for relationships to the project of writing a diary of their travels to Italy in the two turbulent years of the Risorgimento leading up to 1848. Hook had won a travelling studentship from the Royal Academy, on the strength of which he married, so the couple's European travels were their working honeymoon. Hook's career as an Academician lasted over fifty years, during the great boom in the Victorian art market; and Rosalie's subsequent diary records a busy professional couple in the thick of running a country home with studio, annual trips to the bracing coastal sites where Hook painted, and their relations with such famous contemporaries as Holman Hunt, G F Watts, and John Everett Millais. Juliet McMaster, a descendant of the Hooks, provides a fascinating introduction on their professional and personal lives. The book is illustrated throughout by Hook's vivid sketches of Florence, Rome, Parma and Venice, hitherto unpublished, and by many of James's and Rosalie's paintings.
Juliet McMaster is the author of several books on the nineteenth-century novel, starting with one on Thackeray. This led to work on the illustrated Victorian novel, and to explorations in Victorian graphic work and painting. An illustrator herself, she is also the winner of the Molson Prize in the Humanities for 'outstanding contributions to Canadian culture', and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr McMaster is Professor Emeritus in English at the University of Alberta.