Saturday, 2 April 2011

Pope Jacynth and More Supernatural Tales
by Vernon Lee
(Peter Owen Ltd. Hardback, 1956)

I found this remarkable volume a while back, in the ‘Horror’ section in Booth’s Bookshop in Hay On Wye.

Shelf after shelf of boring Stephen King and Dean Koontz, until – oh my GOD, what the hell is *that?* Clearly I must own it.

In contrast to the slightly deranged outsider art style cover design, it turns out that Vernon Lee (1856 – 1935) was an extremely well-regarded writer in her day, and certainly had some friends in high places, although her work has subsequently been somewhat neglected.

The cover leafs and frontispiece tell you everything you need to know, I think. Click to enlarge;

Absolutely love hat Sargent portrait. A picture worth a thousand words, etc.

Having now read a few of the stories within, I must say I’ve quite enjoyed them. Ms Lee seems to have specialised in refined, vaguely supernatural mystery stories, richly textured with classical allusions, obscure Roman Catholic lore and digressions into Italian history. Perfect, relaxing Sunday night reading.

I can't find any significant info online about Wendy Des Moulins, who was responsible for the cover art here.

(Originally posted on my blog, May 2010.)

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