Eugenie Sellers Strong: Portrait of an Archaeologist
Eugenie Sellers Strong lived through a fascinating, tumultuous, and ultimately tragic period of European history. Born in the Golden Age of Queen Victoria, she died at the moment when the titanic struggle of World War II was reaching its height, with some of the most dramatic scenes taking place outside her Roman front door. Eugenie Sellers Strong was a pioneer: she was among the first women in England to receive a university education and, after leaving Cambridge, went on to become a professional archaeologist. She was made Assistant Director of the British School at Rome, where, some say, her ghost haunts the library still.
From the Pre-Raphaelite drawing rooms of 1880s London to the salons of Mussolini’s Italy, Eugenie Sellers Strong was an active presence on the European cultural scene. She enjoyed close friendships with some of the most important writers, artists and intellectuals of her day, among them, Edward Burne-Jones, Edmund Gosse, Gertrude Bell, Frederick Leighton, Lady Ottoline Morrell and Jane Harrison. In recent years, Eugenie Sellers Strong has been attacked as a Mussolini sympathiser and overlooked by recent biographers in favour of her more famous friends: her story has been in urgent need of retelling. Stephen L. Dyson provides a lively and engaging account of the life of the woman Gladstone once described as his ‘first and only love’.
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