The art which inspired the book

At the back of Girl Reading is ‘A Note’ which gives details of various portraits which inspired this novel.  Curious readers might like to follow the links below to external websites, where some of these images are available to view.

Although the novel is made up of seven chapters, and is about seven individual artworks (either real or imagined), I was in fact influenced by numerous different paintings and photographs of literate females.  Dozens, if not hundreds, have seeped into my subconscious and between the lines of Girl Reading.  This by way of saying that not all the answers are to be found here; it would be impossible to show you everything.

And I am compelled to add a health warning (aside from the obvious: that you are leaving my website so I take no responsibility for what happens elsewhere): I truly understand why many people will feel moved to lookup these pictures online, but, I promise you, the art in real life is much better.

Simone Martini, Annunciation, 1333

Pieter Janssens Elinga, Woman Reading, 1668–70

Angelica Kauffman, Portrait of a Lady, circa 1775

Horatio Nelson King, Giulia Grisi, 1860s

Julia Margaret Cameron, Portrait of a Sybil (Mary Emily (‘May’) Prinsep), 1870

Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell (née Stephen), circa 1916–17

Heinrich Vogeler, Martha Vogeler, circa 1905

Théodore Roussel, The Reading Girl, 1886-87, Women and Girls Reading

William Wetmore Story, The Libyan Sibyl, 1861–68

Kimbei Kusakabe, Woman Writing with Brush, 1890s

Correggio’s Mary Magdalene, which was lost during the Second World War, but was much emulated, for example: Cristofano Allori, Penitent Mary Magdalene, circa 1600