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Vernon Lee writes in the Preface to Hauntings, My ghosts are what you call spurious ghosts... of whom I can affirm only one thing, that they haunted certain brains, and have haunted, among others, my own. First published in 1890, Lees most famous volume of supernatural tales occupies a special place in the literature of the fantastic for its treatment of the femme fatale and the allure of the past, along with the themes of thwarted artistic creativity and psychological obsession. This collection, which includes the four stories originally published in Hauntings and three others, enables readers to consider Lees work anew for its subtle redefinitions of gender and sexuality during the Victorian fin-de-sicle.
The appendices, which include extensive excerpts from writings by Lees predecessors and peers, including Algernon Charles Swinburne, Walter Pater, and Lees brother Eugene Lee-Hamilton, allow the reader to see how Lee takes on the themes and preoccupations of the late-Victorian period but adapts them to her own purposes.