VERNON LEE, French Victorian writer born; aka Violet Paget, she was responsible for introducing the concept of “empathy” (Einfühling) into the English language. Empathy was a key concept in Lee’s psychological aesthetics which she developed on the basis of prior work by Theodor Lipps. Her response to aesthetics interpreted art as a mental and corporeal experience.

This was a significant contribution to the philosophy of art which has been largely neglected. She fell in love with three women in succession, and fully expected, being the Victorian she was, to live out her life with each of them, falling swooning into her fainting bed each time the friendship ended. She kept a faded portrait of her first love over her bed. Her second love announced her marriage to (horrors!) a Jew, which required liberal application of smelling salts and her third simply drifted away.