At Liverpool’s Bluecoat gallery on Saturday, 21st March, LJMU English’s Sondeep Kandola took part in ‘Hauntings‘, an afternoon of performances and discussion inspired by the work of Vernon Lee, a pseudonym of the British writer Violet Paget (1856 – 1935). Lee was one of the most influential women writing in English in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries who wrote inventive and impassioned fiction, drama and essays on topics such as European identity, gender inequality, war and globalisation. A continental intellectual and pacifist, Lee both participated in, and anticipated, the wider shift from Victorian earnestness to Modernist play that shaped British literature at the turn of the twentieth century. In light of the turbulent friendships that she had with figures such as Henry James, Oscar Wilde, H. G. Wells and Virginia Woolf and the recent upsurge of interest in the culture of the fin de siècle and lesbian Modernist writing, the event (which featured readings and performances from her influential collection of ghost stories Hauntings(1890) by Nathan Jones and Maria Fusco) showed that Lee is very much a woman for our times.
Sonny has published a book on Lee for the British Council’s Writers and their Work Series, and has also written articles on Vernon Lee, Oscar Wilde, and Arthur Machen. She was very excited to be asked by the Bluecoat to participate in Saturday’s event, and hopes that it will help to bring the work of this courageous and innovative woman writer to a new audience