King Kong is a 1933 movie about a giant gorilla-like animal that becomes obsessed with a beautiful woman (Fay Wray) and dies in an attempt to possess her.
The British Library is the UK's national library. Holding in excess of 150 million items (including 14 million books) it is one of the largest research libraries in the world.
The Library is spread across several locations, but the main site is now at St Pancras in London. However, when Winterson was writing, most of the British Library was located in Bloomsbury, and here Louise is talking about the Reading Room in the British Museum.
The Venetian Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt, most famous for his numerous seductions, was also an author and adventurer.
The narrator first quotes this on page 18, and then the next 80 pages are spent telling the back-story of Louise, and other lovers. This time the quoted conversation differs slightly, it isn't repeated word for word.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded in 1848 by the painters John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and William Holman Hunt. This reformist movement believed in a return to painting in intense colour and detail, and complex composition. Pre-Raphaelite paintings often feature beautiful flame-haired women posed against a backdrop of nature.
At this point in the book, this is a revelation for the reader but not for the narrator. On a second reading, there are clues about Louise's illness before this point: symbols and images of death and decay throughout the text.