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Scots beauty who rocked England's aristocracy by leaving hubby for an artist; THE BIG READ FILM TELLS AMAZING STORY OF SOCIETY REBEL EFFIE GRAY FILM TELLS AMAZING STORY OF SOCIETY REBEL EFFIE GRAY Dakota Fanning stars as woman who struck early blow for feminism by ending her sexless marriage.

Byline: BRIAN MC MC IVER

was one of Scotland's first SHE was one of Scotland's first feminist pioneers.

emotionally destructive marriage to one of the most famous men in 19th century London, Effie Gray's life was Stuck in an abusive and emotionally destructive marriage to one of the most famous men in 19th century London, Effie Gray's life was in ruins by the age of 25.

Her health had been failing and dominated by manipulative in-laws Her health had been failing and every corner of her life was dominated by manipulative in-laws but in an era where divorce was unthinkable, most women would have accepted her destiny.

unthinkable, most women would Yet the young woman from Perth managed to throw off the taut herringbone corset of Victorian society and risked her livelihood, reputation and freedom to do the unthinkable. She left her husband.

society and risked her livelihood, reputation and freedom to do the unthinkable. She left her husband.

By striking back, Effie became one of the most important figures in the evolution of women's rights.

Ironically, the unsung hero's fame is outshone by that of her two husbands. Her first, unhappy, marriage was to famed art critic John Ruskin.

A year after leaving him, she married the pre-Raphaelite painter John Millais.

But Effie's version of events is being brought to life in a major period drama movie hitting screens this weekend.

EFFIE GRAY stars War of the Worlds actress Dakota Fanning as Effie Gray stars War of the Worlds actress Dakota Fanning as the heroine, alongside Julie Walters, David Suchet, Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay.

Walters, David Suchet, Robbie Coltrane and Emma Thompson, who also wrote the screenplay.

Effie was born in Perth to George and Sophie Gray in 1828.

George and Sophie Gray in 1828.

aristocratic, her upper middle While she was not aristocratic, her upper middle class family was well connected. When her father suffered financial ruin, she was married into Ruskin's prosperous family in 1849 at the age of 19.

suffered financial ruin, she was Dr Suzanne Fagence Cooper, author of the recent biography Effie Gray, believes her story is tragic and inspiring.

She said: "I'd been studying the pre-Raphaelites and there are all these images by Millais of her but there was nothing I could read about her.

"I started thinking about her and she was married to not just one of these great historical figures, Ruskin, but to Millais as well.

"How is it possible that we know so little about this woman when she did something so extraordinary, leaving her husband? "If we understand her, we understand a lot more about how the Victorian world functioned."

Dr Cooper added: "She was very intelligent, very beautiful. When she walked into a room, she would turn heads.

"I think she was spiky, very sharp and after her first marriage failed she became a bit reserved, she would protect herself. But if you met her, she would make you feel like you are the only person in the world to talk to.

"She was interested in people - she would go out into people's cottages in Perthshire She cottages in Perthshire and see it as part of her Christian duty. She felt she would go and help those in poverty."

She intelligent, beautiful.. walking she turn DR COOPER " Her sense of fairness, kindness and equality was met with scorn and a stone wall of rejection from her first husband and his family.

Ruskin would not consummate the marriage and physically rejected her. That, combined with the was disdain served upon was disdain served upon her by his parents, who they lived with at their estate in London, left her alone, humiliated and isolated, and her health suffered badly.

in would heads Effie wrote to her father about Ruskin's rejection: "He alleged various reasons, hatred to children, religious motives, a desire to preserve my beauty, and, finally this last year he told me his true reason that he had imagined women were quite different to what he saw I was, and that the reason he did not make me his wife was because he was disgusted with my person the first evening, 10th April."

because he was disgusted with my person the first evening, 10th April."

marriage, she met the rising sta r " During the six years of the marriage, she met the rising star painter John Millais through Ruskin's work as an art critic.

They became acquainted and, while there was a spark, it was not acted upon.

After six years, she decided enough was enough and, using the lack of sexual relations, or impotence, as a reason, she successfully petitioned for anullment.

Dr Cooper added: "Effie never intended to be a pioneer or radical but she was forced into a situation through a marriage that failed, a relationship that was increasingly abusive and the way Ruskin treated her towards the end was making her extremely ill.

"She was very depressed, he threatened to beat her and to expose her reputation and accuse her of being mad.

"He could have had her put away as a hysterical unstable woman.

"Effie had to make a very difficult choice. She wasn't gung ho, it was all very carefully thought out, and much more nuanced than that.

"She is a very beautiful fragile vulnerable creature, she is also very strong underneath. She had a very supportive family who said they would help her deal with the consequences. The Grays had fallings out, they were quite loud and boisterous and they didn't always see eye to eye but they resolved things, they talked them through and found a way to manage, whereas the Ruskins would harbour grudges and be poisonous."

Effie braved a disapproving society and worked hard to preserve her own reputation.

When newly single, she chose to be on her own and enjoy her freedom. A year later, she married the man she had truly fallen in love with, Millais.

They moved to Scotland, spending time in Perth and the Trossachs, which she loved, and enjoyed a happy life.

She is featured in many of Millais's portaits.

She ran much of his studio and business affairs, and they had eight children together.

DR COOPER said Effie's place DR COOPER said Effie's place in history means Scotland should be proud of its early women's rights pioneer.

She said: "Through her, we can understand the life of not just her but the lives of women of her era.

"She is not just this once "She is not just this once voice, she is somebody who represents a whole generation of Scottish women, and the fact they were outward-looking.

"She is someone "She is someone Scotland can be proud of and I hope Scots take her to heart again and try to find out about her special strength of character. "Ruskin SWEET ART Tom Sturridge, above plays Millais and Greg Wise, below as Ruskin

She was intelligent, beautiful.. walking in she would turn heads DR COOPER She was

CAPTION(S):

CRUEL Ruskin and his family made life a misery

RISING STA ST R Millais hit it off with Effie

SWEET ART Tom Sturridge, above plays Millais and Greg Wise, below as Ruskin

SHADES OF GRAY Dakota as Effie, right. Above, Millais' portrait of older Effie and, below, as a young woman
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 11, 2014
Words:1224
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