In The Young Cosima published in 1939, the Australian-born novelist Henry Handel Richardson returns to her lifelong interest in the psychological and artistic growth of the modern woman.
As in her first novel, Maurice Guest, the context is the world of music. Cosima, the younger daughter of Franz Liszt, was one of the most remarkable women of her time.
Here, in her last novel, Richardson chooses the turbulent, crucial period 1855–68 from Cosima’s engagement and marriage to the neurotic musical genius Hans von Bülow served and idolised his friend Wagner, his hero in ‘the Cause’ of the ‘New Music’. The novel ends as Cosima dedicates her life to the achievement of Wagner’s artistic vision—the completion of The Ring of the Nibelung.