A Phantom Lover (1886) is a story by Vernon Lee.
Published at the height of her career as a leading proponent of Aestheticism and scholar of the Italian Renaissance, A Phantom Lover is a chilling tale of psychological unease featuring a strange married couple and a doppelganger from across the centuries. A principled feminist and committed pacifist, Lee was virtually blacklisted by critics and publishers following her opposition to the First World War. Through the efforts of dedicated scholars, however, interest in her works has increased over the past several decades, granting her the readership she deserves as a master of literary horror.
“Yes; I began the picture, but it was never finished. I did the husband first. I wonder who has his likeness now? Help me to move these pictures away from the wall. Thanks. This is her portrait; a huge wreck. I don’t suppose you can make much of it; it is merely blocked in, and seems quite mad.”
Vernon Lee’s world is one where ghosts and humans walk together, often without taking notice of one another. In those instances when they do, however, strange and terrible things are likely to occur.
In this story, a painter in desperate need of a commission accepts the opportunity to paint the portraits of William and Alice Okehurst. At their rural home, he attempts to get to know them before sitting down for the long sessions required in his line of work. Taking note of William’s jealousy, he soon understands why: Alice is a strikingly beautiful woman. Obsessed with an ancestor from the seventeenth century, also named Alice, Mrs. Okehurst wears ornate antique dresses and carries herself with the air of a woman not quite of this world. A Phantom Lover is a masterful work from the mind of Vernon Lee, one of history’s most terrifying storytellers. With a beautifully designed cover and professionally typeset manuscript, this edition of Vernon Lee’s A Phantom Lover is a classic work of supernatural fiction reimagined for modern readers.