Vernon Lee



Vernon Lee was the pen name for a French Born, English writer named Violet Page who lived much of her life in Italy. She wrote and published more than 40 books, collections of short stories, essays and novels in her lifetime and several of her books are still in print. She wrote on just about every subject imaginable, but had a particular fondness for Italian art, like her Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy (1880); fantasy, like Hauntings (1890); and travel, like The Sentimental Traveller (1908). She also wrote children’s stories, as well as political, critical and psychological essays.

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Essays by Vernon Lee

About leisure

As the days of the year have become confused, hurried, and largely filled with worthless toil and unworthy trouble, so in a measure, alas, our souls!

Against talking

Talking is the great equalizer of positions, turning the humble, the painfully immature, into judges with rope and torch; and in a kindlier way allowing the totally obscure to share the life of kings.

The lie of the land

The life of all art goes on in the mind and heart, not merely of those who make the work, but of those who see and read it.


The bulk of happiness stacked up in Limbo appears, on careful looking, to be an agglomeration of other lost things; justice, charm, appreciation, and faith in one another.

On modern travelling

Before visiting countries and towns in the body, we ought to have visited them in the spirit; otherwise I fear we might as well sit still at home.

My bicycle and I

The great gift of the bicycle consists to my mind in something apart from mere rapid locomotion.

Old Italian gardens

Flowers in Italy are a crop like corn, hemp, or beans; you must be satisfied with fallow soil when they are over.

In the praise of old houses

I know few things more odious than the chilly, draughty, emptiness of a place without a history.

In praise of silence

We have within ourselves memories and fancies; and it depends on our companion, on a word, a glance, a gesture, that only the sweet and profitable ones, thoughts of kindness and dignity, should be stirred up.

Tuscan midsummer magic

I am inclined to think that the specific charm of Italy exists only during the hot months; the charm which gives one a little stab now and then and makes one say--'This is Italy.'
Patrick Madden's New Book
Quotidiana by Patrick Madden

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2011 Symposium on the Essay
Welcome Table Press Symposium on the Essay

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