- Museum number
'Letters to Katie', collection of 100 items put together in album form, comprising 13 cards or postcards (most bearing a stamp and postmark) and 45 illustrated letters addressed to Katherine (Katie) Lewis, 41 drawings (mostly humorous), and another drawing (a 'secret') in the form of a set of nestled envelopes; including sketches of birds, cats, dogs, pigs, fat ladies, cherubic children, three parodies of works by Peter Paul Rubens (including a version of King Cophetua), a caricature of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema dressed as an ancient Roman, portraits of Katherine, self-caricatures of the artist, rural subjects, and a representation of an illustrated sheet of music. 1880s
Most in pen and brown or black ink, often over graphite, or in graphite; others in black or blue chalk; one drawing in coloured chalks; a few on buff or blue paper
First item, Letter to Mrs Lewis describing an incident that happened to William Morris when he got his shoe caught on a spike; illustrated with one sketch on recto of Morris tying his shoe, and on the verso with two drawings of Morris falling backwards and lying on his back on the pavement, his foot still caught.
Pen and brown ink
- Production date
Height: 150 millimetres (letter)
Height: 392 millimetres
Width: 289 millimetres (covers)
Width: 198 millimetres (letter)
- Curator's comments
- Please note: this is the general entry on the whole album and the entry for the first item in the album. Each indivual drawing/letter has its own registration entry as 1960,1014.2.2, 1960,1014.2.3, 1960,1014.2.4, etc. to 1960,1014.2.140. The last digit used to appear in our registers in brackets but the system now requires just a decimal point instead of brackets.
Burne-Jones had a life-long habit of illustrating his letters. Katie Lewis was the daughter of George Lewis, a solicitor and friend of Burne-Jones, to whom he began to send this series of letters around1882. Almost all the letters, and some of the drawings (dating from the 1880s), are written and/or drawn on the recto and usually also on the verso of letter-head notepaper with the address 'The Grange, West Kensington, W.', others with 'The Grange, 49, North End Road, West Kensington, W.', and in one instance 'Rottingdean Nr.Brighton'. Some of the postmarks on the cards are dated in 1882,1883 or 1884.
The registration number 1960,1014.2(61) has been erroneously left out of the numbering sequence, and there is evidence that an item - between 1960,1014.2 (71) and (72) - was removed from the album at some stage. Each item is described in a separate entry on the database, from the present one, 1960,1014.2 (1) where this curatorial comment serves as an introduction to the entire album, to 1960,1014.2 (101). There is no entry for 1960,1014.2(61) as it does not exist.
There are six loose sheets inserted into the album, with very brief inscriptions, presumably written by Katherine Lewis, as they identify some of the subjects, including a portrait ("Study of me -"). These will be listed where they occur in the book in the entry on the relevant letter. The first one, inserted at the front, is inscribed "Everything in this book is by Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Fat Ladies -".
Literature: First published as a book 'Letters to Katie' by W. Graham Robertson in 1925; an abridged facsimile edition, 'Letters to Katie from Edward Burne-Jones', was published in 1988, with an introduction by John Christian who records that some of the drawings (such as the 'fat ladies' and the Rubens parodies) were probably made for George and Elizabeth Lewis rather than for Katie. See also The Arts Council of Great Britain exhibition catalogue, 'Burne-Jones The paintings, graphic and decorative work of Edward Burne-Jones 1833-98', 1975, p.96, no.356. See also the Christie's sale catalogue for 24.11.1998 (no.169) for a description of a similar album of 80 drawings by Burne-Jones including caricatures and humorous drawings and Peter Nahum, 'Pre-Raphaeite, Symbolist, Visionary' at Leicester Galleries, London, 2001, no. 17 (with illustrations), for 'Margaret's Book', 36 pp, made by EBJ for his daughter Margaret and illustrated for his grand-daughter Angela.
This album is most recently discussed by John Christian, 'Edward Burne-Jones: the Hidden Humorist', London, 2011, pp. 42-4, figs. 2.12 (Morris falling over)
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1975/6 Nov-Jan, Hayward, 'Burne-Jones', no. 356
1976 Jan-Feb, Southampton AG, 'Burne-Jones', no. 356
1976 Mar-Apr, City Museum, Birmingham, 'Burne-Jones', no. 356
1994-5, Sept - Jan, BM, 'Pre-Raphaelite Drawings in the British Museum', no. 75
2018-2019 17 Oct-24 Feb, London, Tate Britain, Burne-Jones - open to no 49
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- The correct register number for this album is 1961,1014.2(1 to 101), but it was misstamped as 1960,1014.2(1-100). See the report on Miss Lewis's bequest to the Trustees dated 23.viii.1961.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number