Mad Richard Cover Designed August 17, 2016
I’m delighted to share the cover for my novel, Mad Richard, which is due out from ECW Press on March 14, 2017.
The image was painted by Richard Dadd, the subject of the novel. Richard was once called the most promising artist of his generation, and later known as a genius and a murderer. The publication date falls in the bicentenary of his birth in 1817, and places Richard in a bustling, fertile early Victorian world, where he rubbed shoulders with Charles Dickens and other artistic luminaries of the age.
Intertwined with Richard’s story is a tale of Charlotte Brontë, one year his elder, who in 1853 wrote a friend that the next day she would visit the Royal Bethlem Hospital–Bedlam–where Richard was then confined. From Bedlam, we follow Charlotte north to her home in Haworth, Yorkshire, as she lives out an agony of unrequited love, considers an unexpected proposal of marriage, and chafes at the reception of her latest novel.
This is a fictionalized account, and in telling the stories of Richard Dadd, Charlotte Brontë and Charles Dickens, it becomes an exploration of art and artists, of inspiration, love, obsession and murder.
All of it comes with a family connection, since I’m related by marriage to Richard Dadd. My husband is directly descended from his uncle, Henry Martin, who is a character in the novel, and who brought his family to Canada in 1840. I’ve written more about that in a previous blog.
And yes, that’s a quote from the brilliant director Terry Gilliam on the cover. His full comment will go on the back. He writes:
Wonderful. Lesley Krueger understands how the artist’s mind functions. Much of the time I thought she was privy to far too many of my own thoughts and attitudes. The knitting together of Richard Dadd’s and Charlotte Bronte’s different trajectories works like a dream. I was enthralled, and her handling of their finales is brilliant, with a sadness that stuck to me like a broken thistle.
I walk the streets of London with Richard Dadd and Charles Dickens always in the shadows. My thanks to Lesley Krueger for bringing them alive again.
The portrait of the unidentified young man on the cover was done by Richard Dadd during his incarceration. It was painted in 1853, the year Charlotte visited Bedlam.