Ottoline's heart was Fated to be broken. She was under Dr. Axel Munthe's spell but when she returned to England all her fears closed in to surround her and realities fell hard. She sensed Munthe would not be the man she thought she needed in her Life.

I Feel there is something in you that you will never surrender to ME I was hopelessly ignorant of the complexity of man's psychology; I could not understand the hesitations of this man who professed to love me.

The pair was destined to meet once more when Ottoline was again in Italy- this time at the Villa of her Aunt. Ottoline's cousin Violet Paget undertook the trip to Rome to consult the Doctor about her own health-a ruse to seek some end for better or worse to this chapter in Ottoline's Life.

ottoline wrote of the scene in her MEMOIRS:

I went to his house, the house that Keats had died in waited in his patient's waiting room. There I found laid on the table for  the public to read the white vellum BROWnING that had been my Own precious possession and that i had given to him... I have no clear memory of what he said to me... He told me he considered me a religious Maniac, that he had quite enough nerve cases amongst his Patients, that to have one a as Wife would be too much... He embrace me and I left, saddened and more hurt and torn and hopeless than EVER... I felt almost glad with that odd sense of being born again; with Power to win, unshackled to start afresh, a new self Replacing the old one:


she added this passage from PROUST-

at the same time as forgetfulness, an almost complete suppression of suffering and the prospect of recovery, for he was none other than one of those alternative selves which fate holds in reserve for us, and which in spite of ourselves - paying no more attention to our prayers than a clear-sighted and all the more authoritarian doctor - it substitutes for our sorely wounded self, in a carefully timed operation. Moreover, it effects this renewal as the need arises, as happens with the wear and repair of bodily cells, but we take no notice unless our old self was nursing some great wound, some painful foreign body, which we are astonished no longer to find, in our marvelling at having become someone else, someone else for whom his predecessor's suffering is no more than the suffering of a third party, a suffering which we can discuss compassionately because we do not feel it. And we are even quite unmoved at having passed through so much suffering, for we remember only vaguely having suffered.

photograph by Josef Sudek, 1942.


  1. What year was last meeting (and parting)?

  2. G. as best I can tell- it was late 1898-or early 99.
    the initial visit with Hilda she records as August 1898. Ottoline does not get dates-if I recollect. I keep comparing notes from the biographies and from Ott's own memoirs during this period. there are some variations- minor ones. Ott's relationships with Hilda and even Vernon Lee-could be the focus of a book in and of themselves. So much to delve in to. thanks G. for your continued comments. they keep me going as the blog is in its infancy. pgt