Synopses & Reviews
Henry James was born in 1843 in New York City. He traveled and studied extensively in New York, London, Paris and Geneva, and returned to the States in 1860, enrolling in Harvard Law School two years later. By 1865 he had begun to contribute reviews and short stories to periodicals in earnest. His first major piece of fiction, "Watch and Ward," was serialized in The Atlantic Monthly in 1870, and Roderick Hudson, his first major novel, was published in 1875. James spent the following decades abroad, first visiting Paris, where he met Ivan Turgenev, Emile Zola and Gustave Flaubert, then settling in London, where he lived for over twenty years and wrote several novels, including Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, and The Princess Casamassima. In 1897 he moved to Lamb House in Rye, where he wrote his later novels, including The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors, and The Golden Bowl, and well as his popular ghost story, "The Turn of the Screw." James became a British subject in 1915. Two unfinished novels, The Ivory Tower and The Sense of the Past, were published as fragments after his death on February 28, 1916.
"The Wings of the Dove represents the pinnacle of James's prose." Louis Auchincloss
The haunting classic of a doomed heiress, a duo of scheming lovers, and the drama of desire, betrayal, and tragedy that play out in the splendor of Victorian London. Includes a new Introduction and a preface by the author.
About the Author
Henry James was born in New York City on April 15, 1843, of Scottish and Irish
ancestry. His father, Henry James, Sr., was a whimsical,utterly charming, maddeningly
openminded parent--a Swedenborgian philosopher of considerable wealth who believed
in a universal but wholly unformed society. He gave both Henry and his elder son,
William, an infant baptism by taking them to Europe before they could even speak.
In fact, Henry James later claimed that his first memory, dating from the age
of two, was a glimpse of the column of the Place Vendome framed bythe window of
the carriage in which he was riding. His peripatetic childhood took him to experimental
schools in Geneva, Paris, and London. Even back in the United States he was shuffled
from New York City to Albany to Newport to Boston and finally to Cambridge, where
in 1862 hebriefly attended Harvard Law School. 'An obscure hurt,' probably to
his back, exempted him from service in the Civil War, and James felt he hadfailed
as a man when it counted most to be one and he vowed never to marry.
In search of a possible occupation, the young James turned to literature; within
five years it had become his profession. His earliest story appeared in The
Atlantic Monthly in 1865, when he was twenty-two. From the start of his
career James supported himself as a writer, and over the next tenyears he produced
book reviews, drama and art criticism, newspaper columns, travel pieces and
travel books, short stories, novelettes, a biography, and his first novel--Roderick
Hudson (1876). Late in 1875, following two recent trips to Europe, James
settled in Paris, where hemet Turgenev, Flaubert, and Zola, and wrote The
American (1877). In December 1876 he moved to London, where he produced
The Europeans (1878). Soon afterward he achieved fame on both sides of
the Atlantic with the publication of Daisy Miller (1879), the book that
forever identified him with the 'international theme' of the effect of Americans
and Europeans on each other.
Yet Henry James aspired to more than the success of Daisy Miller. Determined
to scale new literary heights, James abandoned the intense social life of his
earlier years and, with Balzac as his role model, devoted himself all out to
the craft of fiction. Although The Portrait of a Lady (1881) was critically
acclaimed and sold well, the other novels of James's 'Balzac' period--Washington
Square (1881), The Bostonians (1886), ThePrincess Casamassima
(1886), and The Tragic Muse (1890)--were not popular with the public.
As a result, he decided to redirect his efforts and began writing for the stage.
In 1895, the disastrous opening night of his play Guy Domville--when James came
onstage only to be hissed and booed by the London audience--forever ended his
career as a playwright.
Rededicating himself to fiction, he wrote The Spoils of Poynton (1897), What Maisie Knew (1897), The Turn of the Screw (1898), and The Awkward Age (1899). Then, as he approached and passed the age of sixty James's three greatest novels appeared in rapid succession: The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), and The Golden Bowl (1904). He spent most of his remaining years at Lamb House, his ivy-covered home in Rye, writing his memoirs and revising his novels for the twenty-four-volume New York Edition of his lifework. When World War I broke out, he was eager to serve his adopted country and threw himself into the civilian war effort. In 1915, after four decades of living in England, James became a British subject, and King George V conferred the Order of Merit on him in January 1916. Henry James died in London on February 28, 1916, and his ashes were buried in the James family plot in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Commenting on the enormous contemporary interest in James, novelist Louis Auchincloss said: 'How he would have loved his posthumous fame! One can imagine Emily Bronte and Herman Melville shrugging shoulders, faintly scornful, but James would have bristled with pride at every mention of his name. . . . It is pleasant to think that in the end he had at least a whiff of it and that the silent, grave, bearded young man should have evolved into the portly figure of the rolling, resolute gait, simple in emotion but quick and spontaneous in affection, leaving among his recording disciples a deep impression of majesty, beauty and greatness.'