"One thing leads to another."

      One thing leads to another. James Burke started a television series in 1978 called "Connections" in which he "follows various timelines of how one innovation lead to something seemingly totally unrelated in the future". Connections 2 (1994) and Connections 3 (1997) have since followed.

      What is the connection between Lorena McKennitt, Agatha Christie, John William Waterhouse, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson? I, and many others are admirers of their works. As it turns out there is a common thread between them.

WAG Screen reenactment - 2009

      This is a picture of film actress Victoria Rigby in costume. Her dress and necklace were made for a fouteen (14) minute film by WAG Screen, an offshoot of the Washingborough Archaeology Group. There was no pattern to follow for this garment. The costume was created entirely from a painting done in 1888 by

John William Waterhouse.

The Lady of Shalott 1888

WAG Screen reenactment - 2009

      The boat was refitted for the film. The tapestry was made for this film, and laid in the boat before the Lady stepped in, just as in the painting.

      The painting was inspired by the poem of the same name, which was written by

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Text of The Lady of Shalott

Comparison of the 1833 and 1842 versions

      The story of Elaine of Astolat is that she died of unrequited love for Lancelot, a knight in King Arthur's court, and drifted down a river to Camelot in a boat. This was the source material for Tennyson's poem.

Elaine of Astolat

      Waterhouse did three works based on the character of The Lady of Shalott. This is the second painting:

The Lady of Shalott Looking at Lancelot 1894

The third painting, done in 1916, was also realized for the WAG Screen film.

I Am Half-Sick of Shadows 1916

WAG Screen reenactment - 2009

      It is interesting to note that Waterhouse painted these three pictures in reverse of the order that these scenes occur in the poem.

Tennyson's poem was set to music and performed by many, including

Loreena McKennitt

      There is little or no proof of the Arthurian legends. A great body of work has been done by many artists, poets, and songwriters that can be traced back to these and other fictional accounts. Dreams of life in fantasy worlds are common human experiences. The fantasy worlds that we create for our living models (or dolls) are no different. If I knew of a good seamstress, and if I had the cash, I would commision such a costume as the Lady's white dress. Alas! There are no patterns to be found for this garment!

YouTube links

      I highly recommend reading the poem (link above) and looking up some of the old language in a good dictionary before watching these videos. There are hunderds of these videos, of which this is only a very small sample.

WAG Screen movie production 14:16
The Lady of Shalott read by Ben Poole as Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Videos with song by Loreena McKennitt
(poem edited - not the full text)

Video by WAG Screen 11:40
(no poetry reading, no lyrics on screen)

Paintings by Waterhouse and others 11:32
(lyrics between pictures. Read ahead! Lyrics pages change quickly.)

Paintings and photos by many 11:35
(lyrics on screen)

"Trapped" (Shalott) 11:34
painting by Melanie Delon
(image never changes, lyrics on screen)

Anne of Green Gables 2:12
The Lady of Shalott (excerpt)
acted out by the characters on the television show.

Shalott by Emilie Autumn 4:05

The YouTube pages list dozens more videos.

Novels and movies

The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side is a 1962 novel by

Agatha Christie

Movies based on Agatha Christie's novel:
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
The Mirror Crack'd (1992) (TV Movie)
Shubho Mahurat (2003) (India)
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (2010)

      The young adult novel Song of the Sparrow (2007) by Lisa Ann Sandell is a retelling of the story of The Lady of Shalott.

      The Wikipedia page lists many more links, of which these are only a few.

Feodora reading
The Lady of Shalott

by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

      The Lady of Shalott is one of my favorite female characters. I am also quite fond of Beatrice (1880-1882) (on the cabinet door behind Feodora) and Sue (67 to 66 million years ago). Yes, I like older girls!

The Salutation by Dante Gabreil Rossetti
Toledo Museum of Art


Why did I write this page?

      In 1833, Alfred, Lord Tennyson published a book of poems that included the hauntingly beautiful "The Lady of Shalott". This book was so rejected by the people of that time that he published nothing else for a space of ten years. He revised and published this poem and others in 1842. "The Lady of Shalott" became one of his best-known works.

      Over the course of his career, John William Waterhouse painted three scenes from that one poem. Oddly enough, he painted them in reverse order of the text. His first painting (1888), the furthest in the text, became one of his best-known works. His 1894 work was from an earlier portion of the text, and his 1916 work was the earliest in the poem.

      Loreena McKennitt performed an edited version of the poem on her 2006 album "The Visit". I became familiar with her other works a few years before I heard this song. Many others have read Lord Tennyson's poem, painted scenes from it, and wrote or performed songs about it.

      Although I have never met these three people, and I likely never will, they 'live' in my memory. Through their work, they (and many others) have made my life richer and fuller. I mention these three because of this single thread that unites them. (Agatha Christie's novel only hints at the poem.) When Lord Tennyson wrote his poems, he had no idea how many lives he would touch, or how many other artists would base their works on his.

      The word 'amateur' is from the latin amo, amare - to love. I wrote the poems, prose, songs, and took the pictures on these pages for my own pleasure; for the love of it. They are known to only a handful of family members and friends. I never expected to achieve the same level of success as these artists.

      Artists and performers have a saying: "If you would know me, then know my work." As you travel the uncertain roads of life, remember that what you do today may have far-reaching consequences, and may affect people of whom you never dreamed. What will these inhabitants of the future think about us, long after we are gone? If we are to be remembered at all, let us be remembered for the beauty that we bring into the world.

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