In 1848 the art critic John Ruskin, he of The Seven Lamps of Architecture – married Euphemia ”Effie” Gray a beautiful 19-year-old. The marriage was never consummated, and after six increasingly unhappy years, Effie fell in love with her husband’s protégé, Millais and set about having the marriage annulled.
Ruskin`s reason for the non consummation was: “It may be thought strange that I could abstain from a woman who to most people was so attractive. But though her face was beautiful, her person was not formed to excite passion. On the contrary, there were certain circumstances in her person which completely checked it.”
Those “certain circumstances” were the cause of much speculation. They ranged from his aversion to children, his religious scruples, a wish to preserve Effie’s beauty and to keep her from exhaustion so they could go Alpine walking, to a revulsion with body odour and menstruation. Effie herself admitted later that Ruskin, she said, “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”.
From this emerged that Ruskin, used only to the smoothness of classical statues of the nude, was repulsed by the wedding-night revelation that Effie had pubic hair. It may not rival Sharon Stone, but poor Effie has gone down as the possessor of the most famous genital coiffure in history.