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BURNE-JONES, the greatest of the second generation Pre-Raphaelites, was born in Bennetts Hill in central Birmingham 28 August 1833. His mother died within a week of his birth, & his distressed father was unable to physically touch his son as a result. He was brought up by a rather severe Low Church housekeeper. From an early age, therefore, Burne-Jones created his own dream world, to make up for his bleak & unhappy personal circumstances. This dream world lasted all his life, & in his paintings we may still visit it today. He attended King Edward's Grammar School in Birmingham, where he was a successful pupil academically, & in his last year was head boy. He also attended art classes. Edward Jones, as he then was, became a devout Christian.
He went to Exeter College at the University of Oxford in 1853, & his intention was to take Holy Orders. Here he met his lifelong friend William Morris. They called each other Ned & Topsy. Here they first heard of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. They jointly developed a fascination with Arthurian legend. Jones became an agnostic, & art replaced religion in his life. He did not stay to take a degree.
In London in the mid 1850s he met his artistic hero Rossetti, who became his mentor, & they were friends until Rossetti's death in 1882. He also met Holman Hunt. Jones then moved to London, sharing rooms with Morris. He assisted Rossetti in the creation of the unsuccessful mural at the Oxford Union. In 1860 Jones married Georgiana MacDonald, one of the remarkable MacDonald sisters. Another sister married Edward Poynter, a further sister married the ironmaster Alfred Baldwin & was the mother of the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin 1867-1947, & yet another sister was the mother of Rudyard Kipling 1864-1936.
Edward Jones acquired the extra surname Burne to differentiate himself from the legions of Jones who painted....
His son Phillip Burne-Jones 1861-1926 was a talented portrait painter.