Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux

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Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux
Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux.jpg
Born (1857-02-27)February 27, 1857
Royal Leamington Spa
Died February 9, 1944(1944-02-09) (aged 86)
Alma mater University College, London
Spouses James Darmesteter,
Emile Duclaux

Agnes Mary Frances Robinson, known as Agnes-Marie-François Darmesteter after her first marriage, and Agnes Mary Frances Duclaux after her second, was born in Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, (England) on February 27, 1857, and died in Aurillac (France) on February 9, 1944. She was a poet, novelist, essayist, literary critic, and translator. [1] She was the elder sister of the novelist and critic Frances Mabel Robinson.


Robinson grew up in a literary environment: her parent’s house in London was a salon for the preeminent artists and writers of the day, including William Michael Rossetti, William Morris, William Holman Hunt, Edward Burne-Jones, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Arthur Symons, Ford Madox Brown, and Mathilde Blind.[2]

She was educated in Brussels and at University College, London. Her first marriage in 1888 was to James Darmesteter. She married Emile Duclaux of the Pasteur Institute in 1901.[3]

She wrote nearly 30 books; her Collected Poems appeared in 1901. Arden: A Novel was published in 1888, La Vie de Emile Duclaux in 1907. Images & Meditations, a book of poems was first published in 1923 by T. Fisher Unwin Ltd., London. Robinson wrote also wrote the first full-length biography of Emily Brontë to positive reviews.[4]

Robinson also had a close relationship with Vernon Lee (the pen name of Violet Paget). The two of them spent the better part of eight years together, in both London and Italy. As Emily Harrington has explained, “critics disagree about their relationship, debating whether it might be classified as a platonic friendship, a romantic friendship, or a lesbian partnership”. Lee herself explained in a letter that she would ask Robinson to marry her if she were a man.[5] In fact, the poet John Addington Symonds, who wrote extensively on same-sex desire and was friends with Robinson and Lee, wrote the following to Lee: “I congratulate you & Miss Robinson both on being together," and later contacted noted sexologist Havelock Ellis to suggest that the two women “might serve as a possible case-history for the section on Lesbianism in Sexual Inversion."[6] Their close relationship ended in 1888, when Robinson married James Darmesteter: Lee had a breakdown after she heard of the engagement, and never fully recovered.[7]


  1. ^ Brown, Susan. "A. Mary F. Robinson". Orlando Project. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  2. ^ Rigg, Patricia. "Robinson, Agnes Mary Frances". Blackwell Reference Online. Blackwell. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  3. ^ "ROBINSON, Agnes Mary Frances (Mme. Duclaux)". Who's Who. Vol. 59. 1907. p. 1501. 
  4. ^ Brown, Susan. "A. Mary F. Robinson". Orlando Project. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  5. ^ Harrington, Emily (2006). "The Strain of Sympathy: A. Mary F. Robinson, The New Arcadia, and Vernon Lee". Nineteenth-Century Literature 61 (1): 74. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 
  6. ^ Colby, Vineta (2003). Vernon Lee: A Literary Biography. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. p. 51. ISBN 0813921589. 
  7. ^ Brown, Susan. "A. Mary F. Robinson". Orlando Project. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 6 March 2016. 

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