A riveting story of talent and the price it exacts, set in a richly imagined Victorian England
Called the most promising artist of his generation, handsome, modest, and affectionate, Richard Dadd rubbed shoulders with the great luminaries of the Victorian Age. He grew up along the Medway with Charles Dickens and studied at the Royal Academy Schools under the brilliant and eccentric J. M. W. Turner.
Based on Dadd’s tragic true story, Mad Richard follows the young artist as he develops his craft, contemplates the nature of art and fame - as he watches Dickens navigate those tricky waters - and ultimately finds himself imprisoned in Bedlam for murder, committed as criminally insane.
In 1853, Charlotte Brontë - about to publish her third novel, suffering from unrequited love, and herself wrestling with questions about art and artists, class, obsession and romance - visits Richard at Bedlam and finds an unexpected kinship in his feverish mind and his haunting work.
Masterfully slipping through time and memory, Mad Richard maps the artistic temperaments of Charlotte and Richard, weaving their divergent lives together with their shared fears and follies, dreams, and crushing illusions.
What the critics say
“Krueger’s portrait of artists as young men and women is alive with wit and rebellion - an aesthetic vivisection of the young Victorian age.” (Globe and Mail)
“There is much to ponder in this elegant novel about the potentially catastrophic emotional toll of art, the irrational nature of love, the solitude of heartache and what happens when one life touches another, however briefly.” (Toronto Star)
“The knitting together of Charlotte Brontë’s and Richard Dadd’s different trajectories worked like a dream. I was enthralled.” (Terry Gilliam)