Vernon Lee is Violet Paget: September's Spectral Collection yarn club inspiration
Vernon Lee (pen name of Violet Paget) was a Victorian author whose work spanned from philosophy and art theory to supernatural fiction and sex theory. I was surprised to learn about her and admit I'd never come across any of her fiction or nonfiction, though her subject areas are many that are of interest. She was a pacifist, lesbian, frequently donned men's clothing, and unashamedly eschewed many strict Victorian social norms.
When I found out that Lee was obsessed with the idea of objects and experiences as haunting devices, I knew her writing would be the perfect lead-up to an autumn. Lee's ghost stories, which likely influenced authors such as Shirley Jackson, focus not on ghosts of persons past, but living persons haunted by their own inner torment or past experiences.
Vernon Lee's fiction work is notable and utterly creepy, but another oft-overlooked fact is that she is credited with introducing the concept of empathy to American intellectuals. Her drive to understand how people emotionally interact with each other may have been influenced by her fascination with spiritual possession and psychological haunting
September's yarn club was influenced by Vernon Lee and her work, particularly her tales of haunting and the atmospheric mood that begins to haunt when the weather turns towards fall. Shapeshifting colorway Witchgarden Flowers takes its inspiration from Lee's own words:
"A genuine ghost-story! But then they are not genuine ghost stories, those tales that tingle through our additional sense, the sense of the supernatural, and fill places, nay whole epochs, with their strange perfume of witchgarden flowers."
It's a violet speckled overcast blue base, with burnt mauve overtones in daylight that shift into a dense rust at night. Included with the club this month were handmade metal bookmarks. Recommended titles this month are: "Oke of Okehurst (A Phantom Lover)" or "Hauntings" (short stories).
The Spectral Collection is a monthly yarn club in 2020, inspired by the work of women in the horror, science fiction, and speculative fiction genres. Each month an inspiration collage is released to coordinate with an author and guide a custom colorway based on that author. I recommend a few titles that reflect the mood of the yarn, and everyone is welcome to read along and participate in the book club portion - which is super informal and fun!
September's Book Club
We'll gather online (via Google Meet) to discuss the stories of Vernon Lee (and yarn!) on Saturday, September 26 at 7pm. Newsletter subscribers receive the link and all are welcome to join - sign up here!
Between Me and My Real Self: On Vernon Lee by Dylan Kenny
The Victorian Ghost Stories of Vernon Lee by Sadie Stein
Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroeger and Melanie R. Anderson