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27. MARY DUCLAUX (1856-1944): PRIMARY AND SECONDARY CHECKLISTS. By Ruth Van Zuyle Holmes (UCLA) I. INTRODUCTION Mary Duclaux (Agnes Mary Frances Robinson, Mary James Darmesteter) Is mentioned In a novel by Anatole France, was described by George Moore as the only woman he had ever really loved,2 was the constant companion of Vernon Lee (Violet Paget) for nearly eight years, and received so many letters from John Addlngton Symonds that Edmund Goose teased him about her.3 She was intimately associated with two Important literary groups: the English writers of the 1880's, who were frequent guests at her parents' house in Gower Street (George Moore and Walter Pater met there for the first time2*), and the French writers of the first three decades of the 20th century, whom she entertained as a gracious widow in her house In Paris. But she was a writer on her own account, as the following checklists show. At least one of her biographies, that of Victor Hugo, Is still In active circulation In university libraries, and two other books, The New Arcadia and The Life of Ernest Renan, caused more than routine attention when they appeared. She became completely bilingual when she took up residence In France and made conslderble contributions to French and English literary relations: she wrote many articles on English writers for French Journals, and consistently reviewed new French books in English periodicals such as Country Life and The Times Literary Supplement until as late as the end of the 1920's. She is perhaps a footnote to literary history rather than a main entry, but her writing has a grace which invites admiration. This Introduction will sketch her life and her main works, but It lacks insight into motives since I have had access to published sources only, with the exception of letters in the Library of Congress Archives and others written to Mary by John Addlngton Symonds.5 The checklists are in chronological order in each case, since this appears the most revealing way to list the work of an unknown writer. Agnes Mary Frances Robinson was born In Leamington, Warwickshire, on February 27, I856, the elder daughter of a wealthy architect. After a brief stay In Manchester, the family finally settled In London at 84 Gower Street, which became almost an open house for the painters and writers of the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Mary's only sibling, Frances Mabel Robinson, became a novelist of some power and was Mary's lifelong companion since she never married. The two girls received an Irregular education under governesses and in Brussels, with a final year at University College, London. Mary scribbled poetry from an early age, often writing lines In stress marks only, the words to be filled In later. Arthur Symons called her "the spoilt child of literature - of two literatures,"6 with surroundings always too perfect for real accomplishment. To those perfect surroundings must be added the additional blessing of extreme personal attractiveness: Mary was blonde and very pretty, with a grace which remained throughout her long life. Daniel Halévy7 declares that at 40 Mary "était fée comme à vingt ans. " 28. By I876 she had met John Addlngton Symonds, who began to give her literary advice. In I878 her first book of poems, A Handful of Honeysuckle , appeared with considerable success. In 1880 their mother took both the girls to Italy for four months, where Mary met Vernon Lee. This association continued both at Casa Paget in Florence and in England , where Violet stayed with Mary on her annual visits. It is hard to gain a clear picture of the exact nature of the triangular relationship between Symonds, Mary and Violet: Mrs. Grosskurth suggests that Symonds was In love with MaryS so that his dislike of Violet could be Interpreted as jealousy. Havelock Ellis apparently later said to Symonds that Mary and Violet might be used as a typical case of Lesbianism In Sexual Inversion.9 However, it is difficult to read Symonds' letters to Mary as love-letters, although they were occasionally sent with rose-petals In the envelopes; they are concerned mostly with literary and historical subjects and Angelo, Symonds' male lover...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 27-46
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Will Be Archived 2021
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