Joseph Turner (1775 - 1851)
Brought up in London, Turner was always fascinated by the Thames. Water and ships were a major source of inspiration in his work and the riverside area of London was to remain his homebase all his life.
Turner was held in high regards by his contemporaries, and was rewarded with both critical acclaim and considerable wealth. Although something of a 'society' figure, he was more at home among the bustle and debris of Londons Docklands.
Turners Secret Life
Turner was exceptionally secretive, especially over women. From the age of twenty-five he was to keep several mistresses, who were to bear him four illegitimate children.
Although he never married, women always played an important part of Turners life. His vigorously sensual side was to emerge in the coplous quantities of erotic drawings discovered amongst the Turner bequest on his death. These were supposedly executed during the weekends of drunken debauchery amid the Dockside taverns of Wapping.
In 1833 Turner met Sophia Booth, a widowed landlady from Margate who was to become his mistriss until his death in 1851. When Turner inherited two cottages in the dockland area of Wapping, he converted them into a tavern and installed Mrs. Booth as proprietor. He named the tavern 'The Old Star'.
To maintain his secrecy during their life together Turner adopted her surname. This, combined with his five-foot height and portly physique was to earn him the nickname 'Puggy Booth'.
Turners Old Star
Turner's 'Old Star' remains on site to this day. In 1987 the property was extensively refurbished and as a tribute to the great British painter was renamed 'Turner's Old Star'