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Amy Levy (1861-89), one of seven brothers and sisters, went to Brighton High School, and from 1879-81 was the first Jewish student at Newnham College, Cambridge; she published Xantippe, poems in defence of Socrates’ maligned wife, when she was 20. After travelling abroad, she lived at the family home in Bloomsbury, becoming part of a group of emancipated women that included Olive Schreiner, Beatrice Webb and Eleanor Marx who met daily at the British Museum Reading Room. As well as a prolific output of poems, essays and articles, she wrote The Romance of a Shop (1888), about four sisters earning their living; and Reuben Sachs(also 1888), both a feminist plea and a satire on the materialism of late-Victorian Jews, much praised by Oscar Wilde. Amy Levy’s tendency to melancholy, her growing deafness, and the simplistic condemnation of her novel as anti-semitic by some, may have contributed to her suicide when she was only 27.
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