Victorian Sisters: The Remarkable Macdonalds Women and the Great Men They Inspired

Cover of Victorian Sisters: The Remarkable Macdonalds and the Four Great Men They Inspired By Ina Taylor

Ellingham Press has published a paperback edition of Victorian Sisters by Ina Taylor.

An excellent biography.
- The London Evening Standard

Women behind famous men have long been a source of fascination to historians and gossip columnists alike. The Macdonald sisters were wives of four men of distinction. ... Ina Taylor asks where the sisters could have broken through the conventions imposed by the Victorian era. ... Her biography of the Macdonald sisters shows that these four women were talented in their own right and makes thoroughly enjoyable reading.
- The Lady

A fascinating and well-researched book.
- Manchester Evening Echo

Victorian Sisters is a tale of many strands, woven through letters and odd snippets of obscured lives. Melancholy and self-sacrifice run through it all but sisterly warmth and indomitable energy win through.
- Express & Star

Engagingly told.
- Daily Express

A plum-filled memoir!
- The Sunday Telegraph

Ina Taylor is to be congratulated that the sisters hold centre stage and are in no way overshadowed by their more famous male relatives - their stories told in a craftswoman like way are absorbing enough in themselves.
- Arts Report

In this intimate portrait of Victorian times, Ina Taylor brings to light the little-known accomplishments of four outstanding women - sisters who became the guiding force behind four famous men.

The Macdonald sisters were wives and mothers of four men of distinction: Alice, mother of Rudyard Kipling, Georgie, married Edward Burne-Jones, Agnes, married Edward Poynter; Louisa, mother of Stanley Baldwin.

Ina Taylor examines the background of these impressive women - their strictly Methodist upbringing in the grim industrial towns of the North and Midlands, and their lives as part of the heady set of the Pre-Raphaelite artists. For Alice, the most obviously ambitious of the four, a life in India; for Georgie, a literary world, William Morris and George Eliot among her closest friends; for Agnes, a social butterfly, a world of continental travel and glittering functions; and for Louisa a life deep in the Worcestershire countryside, the wife of a wealthy industrialist.

In Victorian Sisters Ina Taylor asks whether talented in their own rights, the sisters could have broken through the restraints and conventions of their age, and to what extent they supported and even instigated success in their husbands and sons.


  • Family tree
  • 1 Venerated ancestors
  • 2 An introspective childhood
  • 3 Widening horizons (1850 - 56)
  • 4 Pre-Raphaelite experience (1856 - 60)
  • 5 The marriage stakes (1860 - 66)
  • 6 A courtly love? (1860 - 70)
  • 7 The memsahib (1865 - 80)
  • 8 The rivals (1866 - 80)
  • 9 Dear little epigram (1870 - 80)
  • 10 The family square (1880 - 93)
  • 11 Middle age (1880 - 1900)
  • 12 The end of a generation
  • Epilogue
  • Notes and References
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Cover design by The Goosey Graphics Company.