REVERED by critics and endorsed by scholars, the owner of a Knutsford architectural design consultancy’s debut book is taking the art world by storm.

Nigel Daly’s first leap into literature, The Lost Pre Raphaelite, tells the tale forgotten artist, Robert Bateman.

Nigel, of Nigel Daly Designs on King Street, stumbled upon the artist when renovating Biddulph Old Hall on the Staffordshire Moorlands. He discovered the artist had a lifetime tenancy on the home when he found Bateman’s death certificate among the house deeds.

With little to no information on the artist, Nigel and his partner Brian Vowles embarked on a mission to piece together the mystery, but were unprepared for what they found.

The search took the pair around the world, from Staffordshire to Lahore in India, to Canada, to Wyoming, and then, via Buffalo Bill to Peru and back to England. En route, Nigel pieced together ‘an astonishing story of love and loss, of art and politics, of morality and hypocrisy, of family secrets, concealed but never quite completely obscured’.

Nigel decided to write a book about his discoveries, which was released on August 7. The Lost Pre Raphaelite has been endorsed by acclaimed art historian Allen Staley, author of The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape, been the subject of a double-page review by Telegraph art critic Richard Dorment, and sold out on pre release at Waterstones on King Street.

“We are shocked and delighted,” said Nigel. “I have written design pieces in magazines but this is completely different. “We are really surprised by the reaction, it is a strange thing.”

Breakout box

Praise for The Lost Pre Raphaelite

'Fascinating and engrossing book, as well as an important contribution to our knowledge of Victorian painting and the crippling rule of Victorian social convention...' Allen Staley, Professor (Emeritus) of the History of Art at Columbia University, New York, and author of The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape.

'If ever there were a life that proves the adage about truth beating the wildest imaginings of fiction it's that of Robert Bateman, an artist almost lost to memory...' Telegraph