Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography (Victorian Literature & Culture)

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9780813921587: Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography (Victorian Literature & Culture)
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Vernon Lee, born Violet Paget in 1856 to English parents who lived on the continent, bridged two worlds and many cultures. She was a Victorian by birth but lived into the second quarter of the 20th century. Her chosen home was Itay, but she spent most part of every year in England where she published over the years an impressive number of books: novels, short stories, travel essays, studies of Italian art and music, psychological aesthetics and polemics. She was widely recognized as a woman of letters and moved freely in major literary and social circles, meeting and at time having close friendships with a huge number of the major writers and intellectuals of her time. Although she never committed herself to one programme of political activism, she was an advocate for feminism and social reform and during World War I was an ardent pacifist. In her last years she watched with dismay the emergence of fascism. This text recovers the crowded and intellectually eventful life from Vernon Lee's previously unpublished letters and journals, as well as from her books themselves. Vineta Colby also explores Lee's troubled personal life, from her childhood in an eccentric expatriate family to her several unhappy love affairs with women to her frank recognition that her work, brilliant as some of it was, remained unappreciated. Through it all, Vernon Lee clung to her faith in the life of the mind, and through Colby's engaging biographical narrative, she emerges today as a writer worthy of renewed attention and admiration.

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Vineta Colby, Professor Emerita of English, Queens College, City University of New York, is the author of The Singular Anomaly: Women Novelists of the Nineteenth Century and Yesterday's Woman: Domestic Realism in the English Novel, and coauthor with Robert A. Colby of The Equivocal Virtue: Mrs. Oliphant and the Victorian Literary Marketplace. She is also the editor of three volumes in the World Authors series and the coeditor of European Authors: 1000-1900.

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