Amy Levy

Amy Levy

b. 1861 d. 1889


Dear Friend, you must not deem me light if, as I lie and muse to-night, I give a smile and not a sigh to thoughts of our Philosophy. - Amy Levy, 'Philosophy'


About Amy Levy

Amy Levy was one of seven children born to a wealthy Anglo‑Jewish family. She was in many ways a pioneering woman, becoming the first Jewish woman ever to study at Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1879. She had a wide circle of intellectual friends, but she suffered periodically from bouts of severe depression.

She left university before completing her degree in order to concentrate on her writing and to travel in Germany, Italy and France, often with a female friend.

Her novels deal with the complex issue of Anglo‑Jewish identity, while her essays are often concerned with her Jewish heritage and the depiction of Jewish characters in literature. Her poetry includes dramatic monologues and sonnets, and her precocious talent is seen in her first collection, which appeared when she was only twenty.

Amy Levy committed suicide in 1889 by inhaling charcoal fumes at her family home. She was twenty‑seven.