Ms. Siddal’s Hair, a Continuation
Dante Rossetti may not have been playing with all 52 cards in his deck when, seven years after the death by suicide (or so it was suspected) of his wife and muse, Elizabeth Siddal, he ordered her body exhumed so that he could retrieve a book of poetry he had buried with her. His agent at the time, a hanger-on named Charles Augustus Howell, pushed him to do it (seeing dollar signs dancing in his head, no doubt) and was present to witness the unwholesome and perhaps unholy act. (Unable to wait, perhaps, to get his grubby little hands on the book.)
I do find it distasteful to speak (or in this case, write) ill of the dead, but by popular accounts Howell was a real piece of work. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based his character Charles Milverton on Howell, preserving the first name of the villain. Howell as Milverton encountered Sherlock Holmes in THE ADVENTURE OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS MILVERTON.
I never met the man, so I cannot say with any accuracy what sort of fellow he was. But read the words of Doyle, speaking as Sherlock Holmes, in regards to Howell/Milverton: “Do you feel a creeping sensation, Watson, when you stand before the serpents in the Zoo and see the slithery, gliding, venomous creatures with their deadly eyes and wicked, flattened faces? Well, that’s how Milverton impresses me. I’ve had to do with fifty murderers in my career, but the worst of them never gave me the repulsion which I have for this fellow…Heaven help the man, and still more the woman, whose secret and reputation come into the power of Milverton. With a smiling face and a heart of marble he will squeeze and squeeze until he has drained them dry.” Ouch!
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless.
Denn die totden reiten schnell!