Vernon Lee

Writer Violet Paget, raised by unconventional British parents in the south of France, was an engaged feminist who always dressed à la garçonne.

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Vernon = Violet

She was also an extreme pacifist, held in suspense in England for the duration of the Great European Civil War to stifle her dangerous creativity and muzzle her outspoken voice.

Her books were benignly neglected for decades as an effective form of postmortem retribution until she was rediscovered by modern feminists beginning in the Nineties.

Her views on aesthetics may be greatly admired in certain circles.

Her somewhat more gruesome ideas about the nature and extent of eternal love lie well beyond the pale.

Amour dure. Dure amour.

Gaston Leroux

Leroux was the author of such great classics of French literature as The Mystery of the Yellow Room and The Phantom of the Opera.

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not that Gaston

He died tragically of an acute urinary infection before he could enjoy the full fruits of his enormous and lasting success as the creator (or rather popularizer) of the Opera Ghost.

A long-standing mystery remains unsolved even to this day. Why is it that the French have so sadly neglected their favorite son’s undisputed masterpiece?

Erik (AKA the Phantom) has been filmed and staged repeatedly around the world over the last century, with Lon Chaney, Claude Rains, and Christopher Lee joined by a veritable host of equally distinguished also-rans in the heady race to portray the ugliest and most tragic antihero the world has ever seen.

Is it because Erik is so ugly in body, if not in spirit?

Is it because Christine is too beautiful to live on the inside, as well as the outside?

Is it because Raoul is so pitiful and weak as an alternative to the Spirit of Music?

Is it because the Persian is so dark, Eastern, and mysterious in his ways?

Is it because the Paris Opera, and its endless series of cellars beneath the level of the sunlit streets, reflects the soft underbelly of modern society in ways that make French intellectuals and their betters squeamish and uncomfortable?

In order to answer this question, all you have to do is ask.

The rat-catcher might know.

Better yet, why not ask the man/shade/shadow in the felt hat?

He undoubtedly has strong opinions on this very subject.

John Buchan

Novelist, historian, and politician John Buchan spent the last five years of his long and productive life as the fifteenth Governor General of the Dominion of Canada.

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Johnny boy, we hardly knew ye

He was also a colonialist, a racist, and an antisemite. His racism and antisemitism were quite casual in nature, the inevitable product of his class, his position, and his ardent worship of Anglo-Saxon cultural supremacy, garnished with just a wee dab of Celtic mysticism.

John never had a progressive idea in his life, but as a Scottish unionist and nationalist, a British imperialist, and a bred to the bone Tory, any such thought would have ruined the perfect idealized view of the world he held so dear.

His supernatural fiction shows an amazing talent for detail in description, and is the ultimate in creepy, if you know what I mean.

The Watcher at the Threshold is watching you!

Mrs. Oliphant

Or Margaret, as we are intending to call her these days.

Oliphant was one of the most popular, long-lived, and successful lady novelists of the Victorian age, publishing almost one hundred novels across the timely wingspan of six decades. This was quite a (pocket) change from the (nominally) more tragic authors of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

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“The Open Door”

Margaret lost her husband to overwork and exhaustion after just seven short years of wedded bliss, with six children appearing in quick succession, three of whom died in infancy. Her surviving daughter died at ten, and both of her surviving sons died in their thirties. Mrs. Oliphant outlived them all.

Margaret survived three years after her last son was taken from her, writing steadily all the while, right up to the very end. The will to write can be stronger than the will to live. Especially when you make a lifelong habit out of it.