Gwen John by Sue Roe
A Painter's Life

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A revealing, animated biography of a sexual and intellectual rebel and a great painter

In 1942, at the height of his fame, Augustus John predicted that 'fifty years from now I shall be known as the brother of Gwen John'. Gwen John (1876-1939) is indeed now recognised as a great artistic innovator, yet for years her life remained shrouded in the myth of the solitary recluse. Born in Pembrokeshire, Gwen followed her brother to the Slade. Her future was bound up with Augustus, his women and his coteries, yet she was also daring and highly original, living determinedly in her own way.

Defiant yet shy, she painted and modelled amid the Bohemian circles of early twentieth-century Paris and embarked on a long, intense love affair with France's most legendary artistic figure, the sculptor Rodin. A friend of Symbolist poets and post-Impressionist painters, later she turned increasingly to religion, achieving a deep serenity which masked her inner turbulence and creating her haunting paintings, described as delicate and austere, restrained and still.

Based on her lively and passionate unpublished letters and lavishly illustrated, this vivid new biography challenges our prejudices about the ways we evaluate women artists and finally uncovers the life of this ardent and complicated personality, one of the finest artists of her day.

About Sue Roe

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Sue Roe is a novelist, poet and critic. A former lecturer in creative writing at the University of East Anglia, she now lives in Sussex, England. This is her first biography.
Published June 1, 2001 by Chatto & Windus. 384 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Arts & Photography, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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British novelist and poet Roe (The Spitfire Factory, not reviewed, etc.) pens a well-tempered, bracing biography of the painter too often trivialized as Augustus John's sister or Auguste Rodin's lover.

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The Guardian

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Gwen John: A Life Sue Roe 364pp, Chatto & Windus, £25 How the tables have turned!

Jul 21 2001 | Read Full Review of Gwen John: A Painter's Life

Publishers Weekly

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Once undervalued because of the celebrity of her now-neglected painter brother Augustus John (1878–1961), Gwen John is an utterly British subject in her lifelong shyness and reticence, yet offers a welcome alternative for Brit-o-phile readers weary of the Bloomsbury circle (Roe's Writing and Gend...

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London Review of Books

Sarah LeFanu reviews ‘Gwen John’ by Sue Roe · LRB 6 September 2001 skip navigation London Review of Books home page from the latest issue site map site search about the LRB terms & conditions contact information accessibility and view options Log In Register for Online Access ...

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