Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People

Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People




• Published on the occasion of a new display at the National Portrait Gallery, London from 3 December - August 2012
• Features two new pieces by award winning author Alexander McCall Smith and Tarnya Cooper, 16th Century Curator and Deputy Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London
• A major collaboration between the National Portrait Gallery, postgraduate students at the University of

Bristol and the National Trust, and includes new research into the identities of the sitters

In Rosy, Tracy Chevalier writes of a handsome young man with a flushed complexion as the object of homosexual desire. Minette Walters writes a poignant letter from a despairing wife. Julian Fellowes has created a biography of a resourceful woman whose husband was executed during Henry VIII's reign.

Sarah Singleton relates the adventures of a spice merchant and amateur musician struggling to make his way in the world, despite his illegitimate status.
Joanna Trollope tells a touching tale about the offer of a marriage proposal in the form of a letter from the sitter's intended bride.

By contrast, the fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has written an amusing tale about an explorer who presented Elizabeth I with a skunk. And John Banville has seen, in the features of a man on his deathbed, the face of an admired officer serving with Cromwell's New Model Army.

These short, fictional narratives build brilliantly on what can be seen in each portrait, thereby providing a new and entertaining way of looking at these intriguing images.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781855144552
Publisher: National Portrait Gallery Publications
Publication date: 08/16/2012
Pages: 96
Product dimensions: 5.15(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.34(d)

About the Author

John Banville is a novelist who won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea (2005).

Tracy Chevalier is a historical novelist best known for Girl with a Pearl Earring.

Julian Fellowes is a novelist, screenwriter and actor, most famous for his screenplay for Gosford Park and more recently the hugely popular Downton Abbey series.

Alexander McCall Smith is the award-winning author of No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Terry Pratchett has sold more than 55 million copies of his science-fiction and fantasy novels worldwide. He was the bestselling UK author of the 1990s.

Sarah Singleton is an author of young adult fantasy fiction who won the Booktrust Teenage Prize for her novel Century in 2005.

Joanna Trollope is the author of eleven bestselling novels, several of which have been adapted for television.

Minette Walters is the award-winning author of thirteen crime novels, including The Ice House and The Sculptress.

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Imagined Lives: Portraits of Unknown People 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Cariola on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This clever little gem has found a special place on my bookshelf next to another, Helen Humphreys's The Frozen Thames. Published by the National Portrait Gallery in London, Imagined Lives is a collection of fourteen 'biographical' sketches based on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century portraits of unknown sitters. Eight well-known writers contributed to the book: John Banville, Tracy Chevalier, Julian Fellowes, Alexander McCall Smith, Terry Pratchett, Sarah Singleton, Joanna Trollope, and Minette Walters. Each has given the portrait sitter a name, and the sketches take the form of biographical entries, letters, and internal dialogues. One imagines the sitter critiquing his own newly-finished portrait. In another (my favorite), a young woman writes to her mother, asking for advice on a proposal from the man in the portrait. Tracy Chevalier's subject, an aging woman, muses on why she agreed to be drawn and on the passing of her years.The book includes full color copies of the portraits plus a closeup of a significant detail in each. At the back you'll find a fine essay on how sitters in historic portraits are identified, using as models known portraits of Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, Mary, Queen of Scots, Anne Boleyn, and Michael Drayton. Details of each portrait's provenance, media, and dimensions are provided, along with a brief history of former identifications.This is a lovely book, the kind to reach for in quiet moments or to take you away from the not-so-quiet.