Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, June 22,1926.
It is my object, as far as is within my power, to dwell this evening on the work of a much-neglected Jewess, Amy Levy, and to pay a tribute of homage to her memory. In undertaking the writing of this paper I was actuated by the wilful neglect on the part of her co-religionists of one whose writings, for pure literary worth, have transcended those of any other English Jewess. It is the object of this paper to bring before this Society, representative of intellectual Anglo-Je wry, a writer whose merited fame has been dimmed by years of obscurity ; one whose name should be prominent in the annals of Jewry, in the achievements of the daughters of Israel in this land. Anglo-Jewish history can boast but few women of genius, with the result that its lamentably sparse list of creative literary artists is praised entirely out of proportion to the value of their work. It is, therefore, the more surprising that one who has contributed six poems to the Booh of Women's Verse, edited by Mr. J. C. Squire, three to The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse, and two of whose sonnets were included during her lifetime in Mrs. William Sharp's anthology, Voices of Women, the only outstanding Jewess represented in these works, should have suffered such neglect that her name is hardly known to the generation that followed her. Indeed, the extent of this neglect may be gauged from the fact that at a recent lecture on " Jewish Women Writers in England," the name of our greatest con? tributor to English literature was not even mentioned, while other writers, less able, less poetic, rather inclined to the prosiness that makes the early Victorian novel such a nightmare to the present generation, were praised.
If the true perspective is desirable in the study of a formative period in Anglo-Jewish history, the name of Amy Levy is not one to be ignored. Her achievements in literature, the direct bearing of her work on Jewish themes and Judaism, her impression on her contemporaries know.
ledge of all this is necessary to the study of the Jews in England. If this task, which should before now have been the lot of more able hands than mine, has fallen to my share, I must crave the indulgence of the audience before whom I appear this evening for the first time, and say that my object is best served by letting Amy Levy plead for herself in the unfolding of this paper.
The daughter of Mrs. and the late Lewis Levy, Amy Levy was born at Clapham on November 10, 1861. She was a child of excep? tional promise and early shewed an aptitude for rhyme. She began her schooling at Brighton. Her first published verse appeared in The Pelican, a short-lived quarterly devoted to