Vernon Lee was the pen name of Violet Paget (1856–1935) – a prolific author best known for her supernatural fiction, her support of the Aesthetic Movement and her radical polemics. She was also an active letter writer whose correspondents include many well-known figures in fin de siècle intellectual circles across Europe. However, until now no attempt has been made to make these letters widely available in their complete form. This multi-volume scholarly edition presents a comprehensive selection of her English, French, Italian, and German correspondence — compiled from more than 30 archives worldwide — that reflect her wide variety of interests and occupations as a Woman of Letters and contributor to scholarship and political activism. Letters written in a language other than English have been expertly translated by scholars Sophie Geoffroy (from the French), Crystal Hall (from the Italian), and Christa Zorn (from the German). The edition focuses on those letters concerning the writing, ideas and aesthetics that influenced Lee’s articles, books and stories. Full transcriptions of some 500 letters, covering the years 1856-1935, are arranged in chronological order along with a newly written introduction that explains their context and identifies the recipients, friends and colleagues mentioned. Since scholarship on Lee’s critical and creative output is still in the beginning stages, these letters will serve a purpose to students and researchers in a number of academic fields.
In this first volume, tracing the years 1856– 1884, the assembled letters cover the beginnings of her career, encompassing her first publication, visits to London and encounters with some of the important artistic figures of the time. As her career begins to blossom, the letters also reflect the expansion of her subject matter from cultural studies and art history to novels and aesthetic philosophy. Correspondents include Lee’s parents, Matilda and Henry Paget; her brother the poet Eugene Lee-Hamilton; English poet Mary Robinson; English authors Henrietta Jenkin and Linda Villari; and Italian writers Enrico Nencioni, Mario Pratesi, and Angelo De Gubernatis, among others.