Detailed view for the Author: Henry James

Full Name:
Henry James
New York City, USA
Birth date:
Rye, Sussex, UK
Death date:


Average Enjoyability:
28 votes
Average Rereadability:
28 votes
Average Complexity:
28 votes
Average Character Development:
26 votes

Author Biography: Henry James was born on April 15, 1843 in New York City into a wealthy family. His father, Henry James Sr. was one of the best-known intellectuals in mid-nineteenth-century America. In his youth James traveled back and forth between Europe and America. He studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, Bologna and Bonn. At the age of 19 he briefly attended Harvard Law School, but preferred reading literature to studying law. James published his first short story, "A Tragedy of Errors" two years later, and devoted himself to literature. In 1866-69 and 1871-72 he was a contributor to the Nation and Atlantic Monthly.

From an early age James had read the classics of English, American, French and German literature and Russian classics in translation. His first novel, Watch And Ward (1871), was written while he was traveling through Venice and Paris. After living in Paris, where he was contributor to the New York Tribune, James moved to England, living first in London and then in Rye, Sussex. During his first years in Europe James wrote novels that portrayed Americans living abroad. In 1905 James visited America for the first time in twenty-five years, and wrote "Jolly Corner".

Among James' masterpieces are Daisy Miller (1879), where the young and innocent American, Daisy, finds her values in conflict with European sophistication and The Portrait Of A Lady (1881) where again a young American woman becomes a victim of her provincialism during her travels in Europe. The Bostonians (1886) was set in the era of the rising feminist movement. What Maisie Knew (1897) depicted a preadolescent young girl who must chose between her parents and a motherly old governess. In The Wings Of The Dove (1902) a heritage destroys the love of a young couple. James considered The Ambassadors (1903) his most 'perfect' work of art. James's most famous short story must be "The Turn of the Screw", a ghost story in which the question of childhood corruption obsesses a governess. Although James is best known for his novels, his essays are now attracting a more general audience.

Between 1906 and 1910 James revised many of his tales and novels for the New York edition of his complete works. His autobiography, A Small Boy And Others, appeared in 1913 and was continued in Notes Of A Son And Brother (1914). The third volume, The Middle Years, appeared posthumously in 1917. The outbreak of World War I was a shock for James and in 1915 he became a British citizen as a declaration of loyalty to his adopted country and in protest against the United States

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