Selected Letters of Vernon Lee, Volume II, 1885-1889

Dear readers,

we are glad to announce the publication, today, of Volume II of the Selected Letters of Vernon Lee 1856-1935, by Sophie Geoffroy (ed.) and Amanda Gagel (assoc. ed.). 762 p. Translation from the French: Sophie Geoffroy; translation from the Italian: Crystal Hall.

ISBN 9781848934962
Published September 17, 2020 by Routledge
762 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

Table of Contents

Vernon Lee’s life and letters : 1885-1889

Editorial policy : textual and technical considerations

Table of Illustrations

Table of the letters in this volume

Vernon Lee’s Correspondents in this Volume

The Letters : 1885-1889

– Introductory Note: 1885-1886

– Introductory Note: 1887–1889


Bibliography (Works cited)

Resources and Archives consulted


Vernon Lee’s correspondents include her parents Matilda Paget (née Adams) and Henry Ferguson Paget and her step-brother, poet Eugene Lee-Hamilton, but also English poetess Mary Robinson (later Darmesteter; later Duclaux) ; English poet Robert Browning; British novelist and journalist Ellen Mary Abdy-Williams; British social reform activist and editor Percy William Bunting; Irish journalist and activist Frances Power Cobbe; Irish scholar and novelist Arabella (Bella) Duffy; British eugenicist Karl Pearson; British publisher William Blackwood; Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson; American novelist Henry James; American connoisseur and arts patron Isabella Stuart Gardner; French translator and critic Marie-Thérèse Blanc (“Th. Bentzon”); Lady Louisa Wolseley; Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley; Irish historian and activist Alice Stopford-Green; Italian Countess Angelica (Pasolini) Rasponi; Italian poet, writer and critic Enrico Nencioni; Italian novelist, essayist and critic Mario Pratesi; Italian editor and man of letters Francesco Protonotari; Italian painter Telemaco Signorini.

In this second volume, covering the years 1885–1889, the 421 letters allow us to follow Violet Paget-Vernon Lee in her early thirties. Recovering from the stinging reception of her first novel and from Mrs Annie Meyer’s death, Lee turns to essay writing on aesthetics and ethics and ghost stories.

After her bosom friend and colleague Mary Robinson’s engagement to marry a renowned French orientalist, Prof. James Darmesteter, Vernon Lee travels, with Evelyn Wimbush, to Spain, Gibraltar and Tangiers and briefly falls under the spell of the Orient.

She also takes a liking to Scotland, and many of her close friends are Scottish –Alice Callander, Lady “Archie” (Janey Sevilla Archibald Campbell)—and so is her future partner Clementina Anstruther-Thomson.

Her letters at that time reflect the expansion of her subject matter from cultural studies, art history and aesthetic philosophy. Her charity work in hospitals in Florence and her readings in Political Economy lead her thinking towards social reform and political issues.

Her brother’s mental illness and her own breakdown bring about an awareness of the importance of body and mind balance and a taste for outdoor pursuits (mountaineering; bicycling; horse riding; swimming). In Eugene’s interest and for her own sake, she becomes interested in experimental psychology (rotating mirrors; hypnosis) and engages in alternative medicine (hydrotherapy).

A major turn occurs when the Pagets move away from the city center of Florence into the Villa Il Palmerino, then in the countryside, where both Eugene and Vernon recover. At the close of the year 1889, Vernon Lee, now thirty-three years old, has found a place where she can settle down for good. She literally cultivates her garden, and turns Villa Il Palmerino, purchased in 1906, into “the true mirror of her mutifaceted mind” (Maria Waser).

We are particularly grateful to

  • the Vernon Lee Archive in the Miller Library at Colby College, Waterville, Maine. Special thanks are due to Patricia Burdick, Maggie Libby and Erin Rhodes.
  • the Associazione Culturale Palmerino at the Villa Il Palmerino, Federica Parretti and Stefano Vincieri
  • Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, Manuscrits (Guillaume Fau)
  • the British Institute in Florence, Italy (Dr Alyson Price)
  • Somerville College, Oxford (Dr Anne Manuel)
  • the British Library, London
  • the Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • the Swiss Literary Archive, Bern, Switzerland (Dr. Corinna Jäger-Trees)
  • the Berenson Library, Villa I Tatti, Florence (Dr. Fiorella Gioffredi-Superbi)
  • the Gabinetto Vieusseux, Florence
  • the National Library of Ireland
  • the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University Library
  • the Marucelliana Library, Florence
  • the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Florence
  • the Leon Edel Archive, McGill U., Montreal, Quebec
  • the Hove Central Library
  • the Bibliothèque de l’Institut Universitaire de France, Paris
  • the Armstrong Browning Library of Baylor University

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3 Responses to Selected Letters of Vernon Lee, Volume II, 1885-1889

  1. says:

    bravissima what a great year for IVLS and for Vernon Lee !!!

  2. Christa Zorn says:

    Congratulations, Sophie, for editing and publishing another groundbreaking edition of letters. Like the first volume, the second one presents us with the immense volume and breadth of her correspondence and the impressive number of important contemporary artists and thinkers, with whom she exchanged her unique and innovative ideas. Thank you so much for your outstanding work.

  3. Anne M says:

    Félicitations chère belle sœur! It seems great! Lot of kisssssses

    Envoyé de mon iPhone


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