Bohemian Lives

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The interweaving lives of three ground-breaking women, and their relationships with extraordinary men. Ida John, the wife of artist Augustus John, was a flamboyant Bohemian who gave up a promising artistic career to marry. She had five pregnancies in just six years, had to live with Augustus and his mistress, and died exhausted in childbirth aged 30. The recent publication of her letters, edited by Sir Michael Holroyd, is the first time her voice will have been heard, although people will be familiar with her because of Holroyd’s famous biography of Augustus. Ida’s story of unconventional love is equalled by two other Bohemian women of the same era: Picasso’s first love Fernande Olivier, who was prominent in the Paris art scene, and the writer Sophie Brzeska who lived with the Modernist artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, ten years her junior, and who died in WW1. Bohemian Lives follows the achievements and sacrifices of the three women and how their lives overlapped, including the realities of childbirth, illness, mental health, education, society and marriage. All three women had a strong influence on their more famous partner and challenged the accepted model of marital relations of the time.

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