MARYLU HILL CHRISTMAS, WHEN I WAS ABOUT TWELVE YEARS OLD, I RECEIVED A PICtorial history of the Arthurian legend. As I paged through it, I was startled to find, amidst splendidly illuminated illustrations from the middle ages, a black and white photograph of King Arthur, looking as chiseled as a statue, yet clearly a real person. Because I was a fanciful and melodramatic twelve-year old, for a moment I half believed it was King Arthur. Then, of course, common sense reared its dull head to remind me that Arthur predated photography by at least a thousand years and in no way could this be Arthur. But my fascination with the photograph remained; it was as real and seemingly trustworthy as the photographs with which I had grown up, even while it paradoxically depicted a verifiable present recreating an unknowable and unverifiable past. It was not until some years later that I discovered the photograph described above was the work of Julia Margaret Cameron, now famed as a leading pioneer in nineteenth-century photography, and it was one of a set of photographs illustrating Tennyson's Idylls of the King. The two-volume work was created at Tennyson's request and completed in
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
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