Vernon Lee Archives Around the World, by Mandy Gagel

Editing Vernon Lee’s Letters

Mandy Gagel, PhD, is currently working in Digital Humanities at Loyola University at Chicago. Ms.Gagel’s editorial work also includes a scholarly edition of the poetry of Amy Levy, and she is currently associate editor of the Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, vol. 8. Contact:
I am more than pleased to have the list I compiled of Vernon Lee letters depositories
published in The Sybil. This journal is the most appropriate venue to make this information public and to be of use to researchers. I also hope it will ellicit responses from scholars regarding corrections and/or additions to the list.

I began collecting and editing Lee’s letters in 2005 when starting work on “Selected Letters of Vernon Lee (1856-1935)” (PhD dissertation, Boston University, 2008), which I am currently turning into a book. As I have worked with this material, it is clear that an edition of Lee’s letters will give scholars in more than one field of late-nineteenth century studies ample material for a deeper understanding of the culture and ideas of the period.
Editing the letters has been one of the most challenging and enjoyable projects of my career, and I think they provide invaluable insight into Lee’s work and life. Her letters to British and American novelists, German theorists and poets, Italian writers and political thinkers cover such an array of topics that a reader can really come to understand the breadth and depth of her knowledge in the humanities, politics, and art. She was a “woman of letters” in every sense of the title. Not only do her correspondences relay her insights into her own work and work of her peers, but also show us the personal life of a woman who has been misunderstood in her own time and ours. Her biography: that of a female intellectual, an independent professional theorist and author, who had a reputation for being outspoken and “combative,” can be riddled with misinterpretations and assumptions. Only when we read her own letters can we come to a truer understanding of who she really was. As a scholarly edition of her letters comes closer to completion, it is my goal to provide as much material as possible for the Lee scholar to use to develop a fuller understanding of this incredible figure.
The process of collecting Lee’s letters has not been without its challenges. For one, depositories of her manuscripts are located across five countries that I know of: England,
the United States, France, Italy, and Switzerland. I have no doubt that letters may surface in Germany as well, as Lee had a number of German friends. Another almost insurmountable challenge for me is that I do not speak and write in four languages, as Lee did, so I have limited my work to her English language letters. Communicating with and visiting the archives in other countries has been a unique challenge, but one that in the end made me aware of letters in even more depositories (especially in Florence) than I originally knew of.
There are databases in America and England that aid the researcher in finding Lee archives, but when I ventured into Italy, for example, I had to visit the libraries and speak to as many archivists as I could in order to get the full view of what the Florentine archives had to offer.

This list, therefore, provides the fruit of these labors. The largest collection of Lee materials is of course the Vernon Lee archive at Colby College in Maine. It has a large amount of material, but the staff at the Special Collections in the Miller Library at Colby is small, so I encourage any serious Vernon Lee researcher to visit and spend time with the collection.
The other archives vary in scope and accessibility, and I have listed what I am fairly certain
they have. I am of course most certain about the ones I have visited. However, for the ones
I have not visited (indicated in italics), I cannot guarantee the comprehensiveness of the list of holdings I give, which I learned from catalogues or correspondence with archivists. Much can be discovered on personal visits and the initiative of the researcher, so I encourage those who have or may visit them to contact me so I may update this list. I also hope to visit them myself in the future.
For example, one archive where the holdings pleasantly surprised me was the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Their H. G. Wells archive contained over twenty letters to
and from Lee, discussing Wells’ books, thoughts on utopian ideals and their differing
political stances as World War I drew near. I had never before come across a thorough study of these letters so this addition to Lee and Wells scholarship will I think be significant.
Vernon Lee, her life, work, and remarkable circle of friends has made my research a
pleasure, and I hope this list will help inspire others to discover and study her personal

List of Vernon Lee Depositories

This list gives the contents of archives that have Vernon Lee correspondence. Some of the
archives I personally visited, or ordered photocopies of the letters. Others, I have not yet
been able to consult. If an archive below is given in boldface, it is one that I personally
consulted. If in italics, it is not.
The Vernon Lee Archive in the Miller Library at Colby College, Maine has the largest
collection of Lee’s correspondence and manuscripts. Besides over 1,000 items to her family, there are letters to approximately forty other correspondents.
For a complete list of these holdings, I direct the reader to the following sources:
“The Vernon Lee Papers” by F. Elizabeth Libbey, Colby Library Quarterly 8
(November 1952): 117-136.
“Vernon Lee: A Reintroduction and Primary Bibliography” by Phyllis F. Manocchi, English
Literature in Transition 26 (1983): 231-267.
Website of the Vernon Lee Archive:

The Vernon Lee Library at the British Institute of Florence
The Institute holds approximately 475 books owned by Lee, some with Lee’s annotations.
Baylor University, Armstrong Browning Archive, Texas
Letters to Robert Browning (1882-1888)
Biblioteca Marucelliana, Florence
Letters to Carlo Placci (1892-1927)
Letters to Enrico Nencioni (1882-1895)
Biblioteca Nazionale, Florence
Letters to Guido Biagi
Letters to Angelo de Gubernatis
Letters to Pietro Fanfani
Letters to Giovanni Gigliucci
Letters to Francesco Protonotari
Letters to Telemaco Signorini
Letter to Vittoria Beatrice Gigliucci
Letter to Mr Maclean
Letter to Enrico Nencioni
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris
Letters to Mary Robinson Darmesteter-Duclaux
Letters to Augustine (Toche) Bulteau
Starr Brewster (private collection in Florence)
Letters to Harry Brewster (1896-1902)
British Library, London
Letters to Sir Alan and Lady Gardiner (1919-1923)
Letters to T.H.S. Escott (1883)
Letter to G.B. Shaw (1920)
Letter to Lytton Strachey (1918)
Letter to Miss Zileri (ca. 1900)
Letter to E.A. Bond (1881)
Bristol University Library Archives, England
Letters from J.A. Symonds (1880-1884)
Columbia University Library Archives, New York
Letter to Harper & Brothers (1885)
Fitzwilliam Museum Archives, Cambridge, England
Letters to E.J. Dent (1904-1933)
Gabinetto G.P. Vieusseux Library, Florence
Letters to Countessa Pasolini (1886-1917)
Letters to Sig. Orvieto of the periodical l’Unita (1907-1910)
Glasgow University Library Archives, Scotland
Letter to D.S. MacColl (1904)
Harvard University, Houghton Archives, Cambridge, U.S.A
Letter to William James (1909)
Letter to Sarah Orne Jewett (1907)
Letter to Elinor Howells (n.d.)
Letter to W.D. Howells (n.d.)
Letter to Horace Sudder (1898)
Hove Central Library, England
Letters to Lady Wolseley
Huntington Library, California
Letters to Frances Power Cobbe (1884-1885)
Letters to (Mary) Elizabeth von Arnim Russell (1933-1934)
Letter to Annie Fields and Sarah Orne Jewett (1898)
Letter to Annie Fields (1911)
Indiana University, Lilly Library, Bloomington, Indiana
Letters to Desmond MacCarthy (1912-1934)
Letters to Edith Wharton (1928-1933)
Letter to Elizabeth Brown Cutting (1918)
Letter to Joseph Conrad (1909)
King’s College Archives, Cambridge, England
Letter to J.M Keynes (1920)
Letter to J.S. Cotton (1885)
Leeds University, Brotherton Library, England
Letters to Edmund Gosse (1903-1912)
Letters to Clifford Sharp (1915)
London School of Economics Library Archives
Letter to Lady Catherine Courtney (1917)
McMaster University Library Archives, England
Letters to Bertrand Russell (1915-1926)
Museumsgesellschaft, Zurich
Letters to Irene Forbes-Mosse (1902-1932)
National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Letters to Blackwood Publishers (1880-1896)
Letter to Patrick Geddes (1915)
New York University, Fales Library
Letters to Mrs Charles Fairchild (1904-1915)
Oxford University, Bodleian Library
Letters to Lady Elizabeth Lewis (microfilm) (1899-1929)
Letters to Katie Lewis (1913-1933)
Letters to Arthur Ponsonby (1910-1918)
Letters to Linda Villari (1878-1891)
Letter to P.J. Toynbee (1921)
Letter to Gilbert Murray (1920)
Letter to John Lane (1904)
Letter Susan Elizabeth (Mary) Constantine Jeune (1896)
Princeton University Library archives
Letters to Scribners publishers (1908-1912)
Somerset Government Office, England
Letters to Lady de Veschi
Somerville College Library, Oxford University
Letters to Lee from various correspondents, no letters by her
University of Birmingham Library Archives, England
Letters to Logan Pearsall Smith (1919-1921)
University of Chicago Library Archives
Letters to P.W. Bunting (1883-1891)
University College, London, Library Archives
Letter to Karl Pearson (1886)
University of Illinois Library, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois
Letters to H.G. Wells (1904-1912)
University of Reading, Hogarth Press Archives, England
Letters to Virginia and Leonard Woolf (short notes) (1921-1922)
Letters to Chatto and Windus (1915)
University of Sussex Library Archives, England
Letter to Virginia Woolf (1926)
University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Research Center
Letters to John Lane
Letters to Maurice Baring (transcriptions) (1902-1908)
Letters to James Pennell (n.d.)
Letters to Richard Garnett (1884-1911)
Letters to Ottoline Morrell (1911-1930)
Letter to the British Sexological Society (1927)
Letter to Elbert Hubbard (1897)
Letter to Julia Everson (1902)
Letter to Rudolphe Louis Mégroz (1925)
Letter to Helen Zimmern (1900)
Letter to J.A. Symonds (1925)
Letter to Mary Ward (1894)
Villa I Tatti: Bernard and Mary Berenson archives, Florence
Letters to Bernard Berenson (1894-1929)
Letters to Mary Berenson (1897-1934)
Letter to Nicky Mariano (n.d)
Yale University, Beinecke Library
Letters to Edith Wharton (1902-1933)
Letter to Leo Stein (1920)
Letter to Lady Jeune (1896)

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