Vernon Lee’s Art of Feeling

Joseph Bristow, University of California, Los Angeles
Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring 2006), 117-139

This essay illuminates Vernon Lee’s intellectual project through an exploration of her relationship with a collaborator and intimate friend, Clementina (“Kit”) Anstruther-Thomson. Noting that their contemporaries’ tendency to dismiss Lee’s and Anstruther-Thomson’s work as a manifestation of their homoerotic desire has distracted from the full significance of what they were trying to accomplish, the essay both explains their aesthetic project and explores the complexity of Lee’s feelings for her collaborator. Even as Lee sought to demonstrate that the basis of a person’s response to art could be located in particular somatic phenomena, a project that involved the scrupulous observation of Anstruther-Thomson’s body as she observed works of art, Lee surprisingly developed an inclination to stress the empathetic and mental components of aesthetic response.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]