"Four women connect four men by a slender but steely thread. One man is an earl, and three times prime ministers; the second a Nobel prizewinner who turned down a knighthood, the Poet Laureateship and the Order of Merit; the third is a baronet, who has been both director of the National Gallery and president of the Royal Academy. The thread is the Macdonald sisters - four women who were the mothers of Stanley Baldwin and Rudyard Kipling and the wives of Edward Burne-Jones and Edward Poynter. "Alice, Georgiana, Agnes, Louisa and Edith Macdonald, five sisters of which four of them married into the history of the Victorian cultural age.
The Macdonald sisters came from the lower middle classes without any great prospects of social advancement. However, they made their name, as wives and mothers, to some of the most famous men (yes, they were all men) of their times. The sisters received an education and through their one surviving brother, Frederic, who studied at University, they came into contact with people from the higher, social classes. The father was a Methodist preacher and they moved frequently during their childhood. Their mother had the sole responsibility to raise the children and take care of the household, which she did with a firm hand. It was only when they moved to London, where the future artists and writers gathered, that their life took a turn. With their charms they met the men they came to love, and whom they supported in their future careers. Not all of them were happy, but they created a big family and kept tight all through their lives. The youngest sister, Edith, did not marry and lived with her sisters all her life, as well as helped them with their families. Not all of them were very organised and their lives were at times rather chaotic.