The castrato and the cry in Vernon Lee’s wicked voices

Patricia Pulham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


For many years "Vernon Lee” (Violet Paget 1856–1935) has received scant critical attention. More recently, however, her eclectic oeuvre, and her literary stature amongst contemporaries such as Walter Pater, Henry James, and Edith Wharton have attracted increasing interest. Despite this, Lee’s collections of supernatural short stories remain relatively unexplored. With the notable exceptions of Carlo Caballero, Jane Hotchkiss, and Catherine Maxwell, who have used the richness of Lee’s language to examine the fascinating tensions that underlie these tales, little has been done to investigate the central importance of the aesthetic object in Lee’s fantasies and its wider implications in the context of the supernatural space. This essay intends to highlight the role played by the art object (in this case the operatic voice), and the significance of the supernatural in the development of Lee’s professional and private subjectivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-437
Number of pages17
JournalVictorian Literature and Culture
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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