Henry James was an American-born author (although he spent much time in Europe and became a British subject near the end of his life) and critic of the late 19th and early 20th century, known for novels, novellas and short stories based upon themes of consciousness.
•Henry James was born in New York. He was son of Henry James Sr. and brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James
•He received a remarkably cosmopolitan, eclectic education. The father desired his sons to be the citizens of the world. He was privately educated by tutors when he traveled with his family back and forth between Europe and America (Geneva, Paris, London, Bonn)
•At the age of 19 he briefly attended Harvard Law School, but he much preferred reading and writing fiction to studying law
•1864 he published his first short story, A Tragedy of Error, anonymously and from then on devoted himself completely to literature
•He published books in a variety of genres: novels, short story collections, literary criticism, travel writings, biography and autobiography
•The outbreak of World War I was a profound shock for James. In 1915 he became a British citizen to declare his loyalty to his adopted country and to protest the US's refusal to enter the war on behalf of Britain.
•James suffered a stroke on December 2, 1915. He died three months later in London.
His first important fiction was A PASSIONATE PILGRIM in which he deals with the first of his great themes, the reaction of an eager American pilgrim when confronted with the fascinations of the complex European world of art and affairs.
THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
THE BEAST IN THE JUNGLE
WHAT MAISIE KNEW
THE WINGS OF THE DOVE
THE GOLDEN BOWL
James is one of the major figures of trans-Atlantic literature. His works frequently juxtapose characters from different worlds—the Old World (Europe), simultaneously artistic, corrupting, and alluring; and the New World (United States), where people are often brash, open, and assertive—and explore how this clash of personalities and cultures affects the two worlds.
He achieved recognition as a writer of the “international novel” (stories bringing together persons of various nationalities who represent certain characteristics of their countries. In his novels the American usually have a morality and innocence which the Europeans lack James seemed to value both the sophistication of Europe and the idealism of America.
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Henry James, jr: Biography
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