Henry James is regarded as a key transitional figure between literary realism and literary modernism, and is considered by many to be among the greatest novelists in the English language.
73 Facts About Henry James
Henry James is best known for his novels dealing with the social and marital interplay between emigre Americans, the English, and continental Europeans, such as The Portrait of a Lady.
In describing the internal states of mind and social dynamics of his characters, Henry James often wrote in a style in which ambiguous or contradictory motives and impressions were overlaid or juxtaposed in the discussion of a character's psyche.
Henry James wrote other highly regarded ghost stories, such as "The Jolly Corner".
Henry James published articles and books of criticism, travel, biography, autobiography, and plays.
Henry James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911,1912, and 1916.
Henry James was born at 21 Washington Place in New York City on 15 April 1843.
Henry James's parents were Mary Walsh and Henry James Sr.
Henry James was a lecturer and philosopher who had inherited independent means from his father, an Albany banker and investor.
The family returned to New York in 1845, and Henry James spent much of his childhood living between his paternal grandmother's home in Albany, and a house on 14th Street in Manhattan.
Between 1855 and 1860, the Henry James household travelled to London, Paris, Geneva, Boulogne-sur-Mer, and Newport, Rhode Island, according to the father's current interests and publishing ventures, retreating to the United States when funds were low.
Henry James studied primarily with tutors, and briefly attended schools while the family travelled in Europe.
Henry James had a stutter, which seems to have manifested itself only when he spoke English; in French, he did not stutter.
Henry James later called Balzac his "greatest master", and said that he had learned more about the craft of fiction from him than from anyone else.
In 1864, the Henry James family moved to Boston, Massachusetts, to be near William, who had enrolled first in the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard and then in the medical school.
In 1862, Henry James attended Harvard Law School, but realised that he was not interested in studying law.
Henry James pursued his interest in literature and associated with authors and critics William Dean Howells and Charles Eliot Norton in Boston and Cambridge and formed lifelong friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Henry James's first published work was a review of a stage performance, "Miss Maggie Mitchell in Fanchon the Cricket", published in 1863.
Henry James wrote fiction and nonfiction pieces for The Nation and Atlantic Monthly, where Fields was editor.
Henry James stayed in Paris only a year before settling in London, where he established relationships with Macmillan and other publishers, who paid for serial installments that they published in book form.
The audience for these serialized novels was largely made up of middle-class women, and Henry James struggled to fashion serious literary work within the strictures imposed by editors' and publishers' notions of what was suitable for young women to read.
Henry James lived in rented rooms, but was able to join gentlemen's clubs that had libraries and where he could entertain male friends.
Henry James was introduced to English society by Henry Adams and Charles Milnes Gaskell, the latter introducing him to the Travellers' and the Reform Clubs.
Henry James was an honorary member of the Savile Club, St James's Club and, in 1882, the Athenaeum Club.
Henry James continued to be a prolific writer, producing The American, The Europeans, a revision of Watch and Ward, French Poets and Novelists, Hawthorne, and several shorter works of fiction.
Henry James began his first masterpiece, The Portrait of a Lady, which appeared in 1881.
Henry James was much inspired by the darkly romantic abbey and the surrounding countryside, which feature in his essay "Abbeys and Castles".
Henry James's mother died in January 1882, while James was in Washington, DC, on an extended visit to America.
Henry James returned to his parents' home in Cambridge, where he was together with all four of his siblings for the first time in 15 years.
Henry James returned to Europe in mid-1882, but was back in America by the end of the year following the death of his father.
In 1884, Henry James made another visit to Paris, where he met again with Zola, Daudet, and Goncourt.
Henry James had been following the careers of the French "realist" or "naturalist" writers, and was increasingly influenced by them.
Henry James's depression was compounded by the deaths of those closest to him, including his sister Alice in 1892; his friend Wolcott Balestier in 1891; and Stevenson and Fenimore Woolson in 1894.
In 1910, his brother William died; Henry James had just joined William from an unsuccessful search for relief in Europe, on what turned out to be Henry James's last visit to the United States and was near him when he died.
Henry James died on 28 February 1916, in Chelsea, London, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.
Henry James regularly rejected suggestions that he should marry, and after settling in London, proclaimed himself "a bachelor".
Between 1953 and 1972, Leon Edel wrote a major five-volume biography of Henry James, which used unpublished letters and documents after Edel gained the permission of Henry James's family.
Edel's portrayal of Henry James included the suggestion he was celibate, a view first propounded by critic Saul Rosenzweig in 1943.
The interpretation of Henry James as living a less austere emotional life has been subsequently explored by other scholars.
Edel conjectured that Woolson was in love with Henry James and killed herself in part because of his coldness, but Woolson's biographers have objected to Edel's account.
Henry James is one of the major figures of trans-Atlantic literature.
Henry James explores this clash of personalities and cultures, in stories of personal relationships in which power is exercised well or badly.
Henry James's protagonists were often young American women facing oppression or abuse, and as his secretary Theodora Bosanquet remarked in her monograph Henry James at Work:.
Henry James's novels are a repeated exposure of this wickedness, a reiterated and passionate plea for the fullest freedom of development, unimperiled by reckless and barbarous stupidity.
The "late Henry James" style was ably parodied by Max Beerbohm in "The Mote in the Middle Distance".
Henry James confessed he got some of his best story ideas from gossip at the dinner table or at country house weekends.
Henry James worked for a living and lacked the experiences of select schools, university, and army service, the common bonds of masculine society.
Henry James was furthermore a man whose tastes and interests were, according to the prevailing standards of Victorian era Anglo-American culture, rather feminine, and who was shadowed by the cloud of prejudice that then and later accompanied suspicions of his homosexuality.
In many of his tales, characters seem to exemplify alternative futures and possibilities, as most markedly in "The Jolly Corner", in which the protagonist and a ghost-doppelganger live alternative American and European lives; and in others, like The Ambassadors, an older Henry James seems fondly to regard his own younger self facing a crucial moment.
The third period of Henry James's career reached its most significant achievement in three novels published just around the start of the 20th century: The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl.
Henry James stated in his autobiographical books that Milly was based on Minny Temple, his beloved cousin, who died at an early age of tuberculosis.
Henry James said that he attempted in the novel to wrap her memory in the "beauty and dignity of art".
Henry James was particularly interested in what he called the "beautiful and blest nouvelle", or the longer form of short narrative.
At several points in his career, Henry James wrote plays, beginning with one-act plays written for periodicals in 1869 and 1871 and a dramatisation of his popular novella Daisy Miller in 1882.
Henry James's other plays written at this time were not produced.
Leon Edel argued in his psychoanalytic biography that Henry James was traumatised by the opening-night uproar that greeted Guy Domville, and that it plunged him into a prolonged depression.
Beyond his fiction, Henry James was one of the more important literary critics in the history of the novel.
Henry James maintained that the widest possible freedom in content and approach would help ensure narrative fiction's continued vitality.
Henry James wrote many critical articles on other novelists; typical is his book-length study of Nathaniel Hawthorne, which has been the subject of critical debate.
When Henry James assembled the New York Edition of his fiction in his final years, he wrote a series of prefaces that subjected his own work to searching, occasionally harsh criticism.
At 22, Henry James wrote The Noble School of Fiction for The Nations first issue in 1865.
Henry James wrote, in all, over 200 essays and book, art, and theatre reviews for the magazine.
For most of his life, Henry James harboured ambitions for success as a playwright.
Henry James converted his novel The American into a play that enjoyed modest returns in the early 1890s.
Henry James produced a small amount of theatrical criticism, including appreciations of Henrik Ibsen.
Henry James wrote a favourable assessment of fellow expatriate John Singer Sargent, a painter whose critical status has improved markedly since the mid twentieth century.
Henry James wrote sometimes charming, sometimes brooding articles about various places where he visited and lived.
Henry James was one of the great letter-writers of any era.
Henry James's correspondents included contemporaries such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Edith Wharton, and Joseph Conrad, along with many others in his wide circle of friends and acquaintances.
Henry James's work has remained steadily popular with the limited audience of educated readers to whom he spoke during his lifetime, and has remained firmly in the canon, but after his death, some American critics, such as Van Wyck Brooks, expressed hostility towards Henry James for his long expatriation and eventual naturalisation as a British subject.
Vernon Parrington, composing a canon of American literature, condemned Henry James for having cut himself off from America.
Henry James was content to observe it from a window.
Henry James has been the subject of a number of novels and stories, including:.