OPHELIA / JOHN EVERETT MILLAIS / 1851-52 / OIL ON CANVAS / 76.2CM BY 111.8CM

Claire Na


Her name was Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall,

I thought you should know. She posed

for him in a bathtub in the midwinter,

only oil lamps for warmth. A

porcelain coffin for our drowned woman.

Six days a week, eleven hours a day,

little more than a sunken corpse. A bath full

of river water. Her

name was Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall, and

she was just a drowned woman. Just a drowned

woman in a bathtub. A

porcelain river for a cold wash.

She was Elizabeth Eleanor

Siddall; look and see the willow lean down from its

tangle of nettles to brush the hair

from her face. She was a poet

and a painter too, this drowned woman. She was called

Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall and all this drowned

woman’s business left her quite unwell. They

carried her to her own wedding, for she

was drowned and could not

walk. It was a Wednesday wedding. Her bridal

dress waterlogged and heavy, dripping

sequins and violets. Marriage of woman

to river, tidal sweep of bedsheets in a bath

full of duckweed.

She was thirty-three and mother to a still babe

when she drowned herself in the muddy banks of

laudanum, our Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall. A crown

of pond sedge and meadowsweet

and snake’s head fritillary for a drowned

woman. Her name was Elizabeth Eleanor Siddall.

I just thought you should know.


Claire has too many plants in her bedroom. She keeps buying more. It's becoming a problem.