This biography of George Stubbs, leading eighteenth century English animal painter, is "imagined", because virtually nothing is known of his character or private life. Historian Merritt Abrash has combined his knowledge of eighteenth century Great Britain with the facts of Stubbs' artistic career and the evidence of his paintings, in order to create stories providing insights into the kind of man the artist might have been. The fifty stories consist of episodes, imaginary but not impossible, which present Stubbs at different moments of life, from the confidence, strivings and adventures of youth to the doubts, fears and deeper understandings of old age. His interactions with fellow artists – Gainsborough, Reynolds, Turner, Blake and others less famous – are often contentious, and encounters with prominent contemporaries such as Dr. Johnson, Gibbon, Wesley and Smith take surprising turns. Stories dealing with his independent-minded common-law wife, their son and personal friends reveal Stubbs experiencing both joy and grief.' His character emerges as centered on the conviction that truth is to be found in the rationally observed factuality of life, yet occurrences in some episodes prove to be beyond factual explanation, leading him instead to unexpected spiritual insights.
The art of the haiku, evolving out of centuries-old traditions and syllabic conventions, is a form of Japanese lyric poetry which demands sure-footed control and, at the same time, light-winged delicacy from every word breathed into its triad of lines. In SHADWELL HILLS, Rebecca Lilly has faced up to this mission with grace, sensibility, and a…