A performative, queer exploration of Vernon Lee

A performative, queer exploration of Vernon Lee

A performative, queer exploration of Vernon Lee

By Dawn Hoskin, assistant curator at the V&A

Originally featured on the V&A blog
Dawn Hoskin from the V&A tells us a bit about their event Following in the footsteps of Vernon Lee. The event promises to draw on Vernon Lee’s studies in psychological aesthetics, as well as consider issues of identity and desire in museum spaces. Lee’s various work of supernatural science fiction will also be explored in a performative queer event full to the brim with androgynous pomp and splendour. Definitely one not to miss!

Vernon_Lee_PhotoWe invite you to join us in the Museum Lecture Theatre for a performative, queer exploration of V&A history, as we ‘follow in the footsteps’ of supernatural fiction writer and queer icon Vernon Lee.

Born Violet Paget, she was a prolific writer, a member of the Aesthetic Movement and a regular visitor to the V&A. In collaboration with her lover, Kit Anstruther-Thomson, she developed her own theory of psychological aesthetics, including ideas about the physical and psychological relationships that spectators can have with works of art.

In 1895 Vernon Lee delivered a series of lectures in the V&A’s Lecture Theatre, on the subject of ‘Art & Life’. Taking place within the very same room, ‘Following in the Footsteps’ is a performative event that draws on Vernon Lee’s studies in psychological aesthetics, to consider issues of identity and desire in museum spaces.

lecture

We will explore objects and spaces that address the extraordinary range of themes and interests in Vernon’s life, as set out in her diaries and numerous published works between the 1880s and 1930s.

Members of debonair group The Drakes will explore female masculinity and historical androgyny to evoke the spirit of this most mysterious and original figure.

Expert knowledge on Vernon Lee will be provided by Dr Francesco Ventrell (Lecturer in Art History at the University of Sussex) whose research delves into feminist and queer interventions in aesthetics and art history..

‘Vernon Lee? I never spoke to her. But in a sense, the true sense, I who love beauty always feel I knew Vernon Lee’ – Virginia Woolf (1925)

Developing and preparing for this event has been an interesting experience, as we each came to know more about Vernon Lee – finding our own elements to connect with and question. We will take you through this process and explore some of the ideas in greater depth in a series of blog posts following the event.


Following in the footsteps of Vernon Lee will take place on Sunday 20 November, 15.00–16.30.