Writer Henry James.

Henry James

(1843 - 1916)

Henry James was born in 1843, and by his midtwenties was considered one of the leading American short-story writers. He published Daisy Miller in 1879, The Portrait of a Lady in 1881, and The Bostonians in 1886. Bedridden and sometimes delirious in the winter of 1915, James requested that his secretary take dictation because, he said, he would “discover plenty of fresh worlds to conquer, even if I am to be cheated of the amusement of them.” He died the following year.

All Writing


Opening night of Henry JamesGuy Domville, on January 5, 1895, was “an unmitigated disaster,” James wrote in a letter, “hooted at, as I was hooted at myself, by a brutal mob, and fruitless of any of the consequences for which I have striven.” The play’s reception, he wrote, “has completely sickened me with the theater and made me feel, at any rate for the present, like washing my hands of it forever.”

Voices In Time

1889 | London

Direct Impression

Henry James pens a letter on life, liberty, and the novel.More

If we pretend to respect the artist at all, we must allow him his freedom of choice, in the face, in particular cases, of innumerable presumptions that the choice will not fructify. Art derives a considerable part of its beneficial exercise from flying in the face of presumptions.

—Henry James, 1884


William and Henry James’ younger brothers, Robertson and Garth Wilkinson, were both wounded during the Civil War—they enlisted in the second and first black regiments at the ages of seventeen and sixteen, respectively. When the fifth sibling, Alice, who suffered from various psychological ailments during her life, died in 1892, Henry cabled William the news. William responded, “I telegraphed you this am to make sure the death was not merely apparent, because her neurotic temperament and chronically reduced vitality are just the field for trance tricks to play themselves upon.”

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