The second-generation Pre-Raphaelite painter Edward Burne-Jones met Helen Mary (May) Gaskell in 1892 and the pair began a close but platonic friendship.

They corresponded up to five times a day and May became the recipient of some of the artistÂ’s most intimate letters, many of them illustrated. Burne-Jones also wrote illustrated letters to GaskellÂ’s young daughter, Daphne. This collection comprises five albums of these remarkable letters, including two containing the illustrated correspondence. The illustrations for May feature a cast of characters, including the artist himself and the fat lady, who undertake a series of adventures. The letters to Daphne in the second illustrated album feature delightful drawings of birds, animals and other creatures of the artistÂ’s own invention. In 1939, May Gaskell bequeathed her collection of Burne-Jones drawings to the Ashmolean. These albums of letters, some unpublished, now join these works alongside the museumÂ’s pre-eminent collection of Pre-Raphaelite art.


Sent by Burne-Jones to Mrs Helen Mary (May) Gaskell and to her daughter, Daphne; Daphne Gaskell; by descent to the current vendor

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