Once I began reading, I noticed that the books were all linked. In Lady Audley, there is a description of a painting of Lady Audley, by a Pre-Raphaelite artist (unnamed), which becomes important.
"No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have painted, hair by hair, those feathery masses of ringlets with every glimmer of gold, and every shadow of pale brown. No one but a pre-Raphaelite would have exaggerated every attribute of that delicate face as to give a lurid lightness to the blonde complexion, and a strange, sinister light to the deep blue eyes. No one but a pre-Raphaelite could have given to that pretty pouting mouth the hard and almost wicked look it had in the portrait."
There is also the possibility that a facet of the character of Lady Audley was based on one of the family involved with the Road Hill murder case, Constance Kent. The first actress to play Lady Audley on stage was Louisa Ruth Herbert, who became a muse for Dante Gabriel Rossetti during 1858 -9. Here's what he wrote about her:
"I am in the stunning position this morning of expecting the actual visit at 1/2 past 11 of a model whom I have been longing to paint for years – Miss Herbert of the Olympic Theatre – who has the most varied and highest expression I ever saw in a woman's face, besides abundant beauty, golden hair, etc. Did you ever see her? O my eye! she has sat to me now and will sit to me for Mary Magdalene in the picture I am beginning. Such luck!"
The author Mary Elizabeth Braddon said Louisa Ruth Herbert gave her favorite performance as Lady Audley.
carte de visite of Louisa Ruth Herbert in 1865.
wikipedia - there is a hand to the left of the picture with the word 'stunner' beside it - Pre-Raphaelite slang for a beautiful woman. Of course, she appears in the book Desperate Romantics (which is much better than the awful TV series made from it).
Then on Friday, I was reading blog posts that I follow and on Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood, appeared a post all about - yes, you guessed it - Louisa Ruth Herbert! There was also a link to another blog, The Kissed Mouth, with a post all about her, including some photographs of her, showing that she really did look like Rossetti's drawings.
So what does all this mean? Well, it could just be one of those things - as there is an obvious link through Victorian culture. However, I like to think I was meant to buy and read the books and remind myself of Louisa Ruth Herbert too. (She and I have a connection of about thirty years, as I also used the black and white drawing of her as the basis of part of an A level art work, many years ago...spooky!)