Rossetti's return to Kelmscott in September 1872, following his breakdown and recovery charted in volume 5, commenced a period of artistic activity which was at its most energetic in the years 1873-1874. Because of the isolation of Kelmscott, he engaged C.A. Howell as his agent, and trusted him to find new buyers and assist in negotiations with his principal patrons. A complex character who " whirled us...in a tornado of lies", he could nevertheless sell pictures, negotiate with mercurial buyers and tolerate Rossetti's peremptory ways. We are fortunate, too, in having Rossetti's letters to the demanding patron Frederick Leyland. The letters demonstrate that in Leyland, Rossetti more than met his match, but neither the friendship nor the patronage foundered.
Previously valued friends exhausted his patience: Swinburne, for example, is "the crowning nuisance of the whole world." At the same time, he unreservedly acknowledged debts and obligations, in particular to F.M. Brown and his brother William (to both of whom he owed "more in life" than to anyone else); and friends in need could always count on his generosity. When James Hannay's death left his family in uncertain circumstances, Rossetti acted immediately: "I have no family of my own to provide for, & am therefore doubly bound to do what I can for an old friend's children."