'One of the landmarks of Victorian supernatural fiction,' wrote E. F. Bleiler of Vernon Lee's 1890 collection HAUNTINGS, while of her supernatural fiction in general, he says, 'Lee's stories are really in a category by themselves. Intelligent, amusingly ironic, imaginative, original, they deserve more than the passing attention that they have attracted.'
Vernon Lee (pseudonym of Violet Paget) was a cultural historian, poet, novelist, essayist, and writer of short stories, who published her first book — the still-influential STUDIES OF THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY IN ITALY (1880) — when she was only twenty-four. She lived much of her life in Italy, returning to England only once a year to form and renew literary and artistic contacts; among her circle of friends and acquaintances were John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oscar Wilde, Robert Browning, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, and H. G. Wells. Compared with many other writers in the genre, Lee wrote relatively few supernatural tales; and there is some argument as to whether one of the four stories in the original HAUNTINGS collection, 'Oke of Okehurst' (also known as 'A Phantom Lover'), actually contains a haunting. A masterpiece of ambiguity, it is one of Lee's most famous stories, along with such classics as 'Amour Dure', 'Marsyas in Flanders', 'Prince Alberic and the Snake Lady', and 'A Wicked Voice'. Several of Lee's stories have been anthologized over the years, yet a complete collection of her supernatural writings, long anticipated by enthusiasts, has never before appeared. The Ash-Tree Press edition of HAUNTINGS contains the most comprehensive collection of Vernon Lee's supernatural stories ever published, including the previously uncollected 'The Hidden Door', and is edited and introduced by David G. Rowlands. Here may be found the superb stories of a master stylist; stories which will enthral, enchant, and haunt the reader long after the book is closed.