EVENT: Following in the Footsteps of Vernon Lee

Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
November 7, 2016

Sunday 20th November 2016                                                                                                                    3 – 4:30pm (free)

We 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.

The Victoria & Albert Museum Lecture Theatre, 1870

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.

The Drakes: A group of butches, transmen and masculine-identified people who joined together in the spirit of masculine solidarity in early 2012. Photographer - Kay Fi'ain.
The Drakes: A group of butches, transmen and masculine-identified people who joined together in the spirit of masculine solidarity in early 2012. Photographer – Kay Fi’ain.

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.

Being-Human-logo-standard_51e450ee3f0d624ece3543a82f5f003e-290x193This event is part of the Being Human festival – the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. Admission is free and on a first-come-first-served basis, so please arrive in good time for the start of the event. In order for us to have a clear idea of numbers, please register for free tickets here.

About the author

Furniture, Textiles & Fashion
November 7, 2016

I am an Assistant Curator working on the development of the new Europe 1600-1800 Galleries. My interests are wide-ranging but subjects I have particularly enjoyed exploring for this project include:...

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