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Isobel Violet Hunt (September 28, 1862 – January 16, 1942) was a British author and literary hostess. Her father was the artist Alfred William Hunt, her mother the novelist and translator Margaret Raine Hunt. Her younger sister Venetia married the designer William Arthur Smith Benson (1854-1924).

Hunt was born in Durhammarker; the family moved to London in 1865. She was brought up in the Pre-Raphaelite group, knowing John Ruskin and William Morris. There is a story that Oscar Wilde, a friend and correspondent, proposed to her in Dublinmarker in 1879; its significance requires naturally her age at the time, and the correct birth date 1862 (not 1866 as often given).

Hunt's writings ranged over a number of literary forms, including short stories, novels, memoir, and biography. An active feminist, her novels The Maiden's Progress and A Hard Woman were works of the New Woman genre, while her short story collection Tales of the Uneasy is an example of supernatural fiction. Her novel White Rose of Weary Leaf is regarded as her best work, while biography of Elizabeth Siddall is considered unreliable, with animus against Siddall's husband, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. She was also active in writers organizations, founding the Women Writers' Suffrage League in 1908 and participating in the founding of International PEN in 1921.

Despite her considerable literary output, Violet Hunt's reputation rests more with the literary salons she held at her home, South Lodge, in Campden Hillmarker. Among her guests were Rebecca West, Ezra Pound, Joseph Conrad, Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence, and Henry James. She helped Ford Madox Hueffer establish The English Review in 1908. Many of these people were subsequently characterized in her novels, most notably Their Lives and Their Hearts.

Though never married, Violet Hunt carried on a number of relationships, mostly with older men. Among her lovers was Somerset Maugham and H. G. Wells, though her most notable affair was with the married Ford Madox Hueffer, who lived with her from about 1910 to 1918 at her home South Lodge (a period including his brief 1911 imprisonment). She was fictionalized by Ford in two novels: as the scheming Florence Dowell in The Good Soldier and as the shrewish Sylvia Tietjens in Ford's tetralogy Parade's End. She was also the inspiration for the character Rose Waterfield in W. Somerset Maugham's novel The Moon and Sixpence and Nora Nesbit in Of Human Bondage.

Violet Hunt died of pneumonia in her home in 1942. Her grave and those of her parents are in the Glades of Remembrance at Brookwood Cemeterymarker.


  • The Maiden's Progress (1894)
  • A Hard Woman, a Story in Scenes (1895)
  • The Way of Marriage (1896)
  • Unkist, Unkind! (1897)
  • The Human Interest - A Study in Incompatibilities (1899)
  • Affairs of the Heart (1900) stories
  • The Celebrity at Home (1904)
  • Sooner Or Later (1904)
  • The Cat (1905)
  • The Workaday Woman (1906)
  • White Rose Of Weary Leaf (1908)
  • The Wife of Altamont (1910)
  • The Life Story Of A Cat (1910)
  • Tales of the Uneasy (1911) stories
  • The Doll (1911)
  • The Governess (1912) with Margaret Raine Hunt
  • The Celebrity's Daughter (1913)
  • The Desirable Alien (1913) (with Ford Madox Hueffer)
  • The House of Many Mirrors (1915)
  • Zeppelin Nights: A London Entertainment (1916) with Ford Madox Hueffer
  • Their Lives (1916)
  • The Last Ditch (1918)
  • Their Hearts (1921)
  • Tiger Skin (1924) stories
  • More Tales of The Uneasy (1925) stories
  • The Flurried Years (1926) autobiography, (U.S., I Have This To Say)
  • The Wife of Rossetti - Her Life and Death (1932)
  • Return of the Good Soldier: Ford Madox Ford and Violet Hunt's 1917 Diary (1983) (with Ford Madox Ford)


  1. Barbara Belford, "Hunt, (Isabel) Violet", in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison, eds. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), vol. 28, p. 875.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

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