1861       Amy Levy is born on November 10 at Percy Place, Clapham, London, the second of seven siblings of Lewis Levy and Isabelle Levy nee Levin, an acculturated upper middle-class Anglo-Jewish family, who held seats at the fashionable West London Synagogue.

1872       The Levy family move to Regent’s Park. Amy and her siblings create a family magazine, The Poplar Club Journal, contributing articles, poems, short stories and sketches.

1875       Amy wins a junior prize for her essay on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh in the children’s periodical Kind Words. Her poem, “The Ballad of Ida Grey,” appears in a short-lived moderate feminist journal, The Pelican.

1876       Amy attends the High School for Girls in Brighton. Its headmistress is twenty-one year old Edith Creak, a graduate of the Newnham College, Cambridge.

1879       Amy’s letter, “Jewish Women and Women’s Rights,” revealing her liberal feminist position, is published by the Jewish Chronicle. Her poem “Run to Death: A True Incident in Pre-Revolutionary France” appears in the July issue of the Victorian Magazine. Amy becomes the second Jewish woman to attend Cambridge and the first at Newnham College, which she leaves in 1881.

1880       “Xantippe,” a long dramatic monologue in blank verse, is published in the Dublin University Magazine; the short story “Mrs. Pierrepoint” appears in Temple Bar in June; and “Euphemia, a Sketch” in the Victoria Magazine.

1881       Amy travels in Germany and Switzerland. At the age of twenty she publishes her first collection of verse, Xantippe and Other Verse.

1882       Joins “A Men and Women’s Club,” a discussion group, founded by Karl Pearson, a socialist and a mathematics professor. Begins to frequent the British Museum Library, studying and writing in the Reading Room. In the women’s lunch-room she meets a circle of women writers, socialists and social reformers, including Clementina Black (her schoolday friend), Eleanor Marx, Margaret Harkness, Dollie Maitland (Radford), Olive Schreiner and Beatrix Potter (Webb). Publishes translations of poems by Heinrich Heine and Nikolaus Lenau

1883       The short story, “Between Two Stools,” appears in Temple Bar, “A Diary of a Plain Girl,” in London Society, and the essay “James Thomson: A Minor Poet” in the Cambridge Review

1884       Travels to Germany and Switzerland. “Sokratics in the Strand,” a short story about despondency and suicidal impulses, is published in the Cambridge Review. “The New School of American Fiction” appears in Temple Bar. A Minor Poet and Other Verse is published by T. Fisher Unwin.

1885       Amy moves with her family to 7 Endsleigh Gardens, Bloomsbury.Publishes several short stories in London Society, including “Easter-Tide at Tunbridge Wells” and “Revenge.”

1886       Spends spring in Florence, recuperating from a depression. Visits the Jewish ghetto, which awakes her Jewish heritage and prompts her to write an essay, “The Ghetto at Florence,” which is published in the Jewish Chronicle, the main weekly newspaper for Britain’s Jews. Meets and falls in love without reciprocation with Vernon Lee (the male pen-name of Violet Paget, an important figure in the aesthetic movement of the fin de siècle). Levy contributes more essays to the Jewish Chronicle, including “The Jew in Fiction,” in which she criticises the treatment of Jewish characters by different novelists, including Disraeli, Dickens and George Eliot; “Jewish Humour,” and “Middle-Class Jewish Women of To-Day.”

1887       Two of Levy’s sonnets appear in Women’s Voices: An Anthology of the Most Characteristic Poems By English, Scottish, and Irish Women, edited by Elizabeth Sharp

1888       Contributes to Oscar Wilde’s journal, Woman's World. Publishes two essays in Woman's World, “The Poetry of Christina Rossetti” and “Women and Club Life.” In October Fisher Unwin publishes her first novel, The Romance of a Shop, which foreshadows George Gissing's The Odd Women (1893). Revisits Florence.

1889       The short story “Cohen of Trinity” appears as the lead story in the May edition of the Gentleman's Magazine. On 10 September Amy Levy takes her life at her family home by inhaling charcoal fumes. Levi’s most important novel, Reuben Sachs: A Sketch, about Anglo-Jews, is published.

1890       “Wise in her Generation,” an essay on Levy, is published posthumously by Oscar Wilde in his journal.

1899       Amy Levi’s last collection of poems, A London Plane Tree, appears posthumously.

References

Beckman, Linda Hunt.Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2000.

Hetherington Naomi and Nadia Valman, eds. Amy Levy: Critical Essays. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2010.

Levy, Amy. The Complete Novels and Selected Writings. Edited by Melvyn New. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993.


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Last modified 22 May 2012