JAMES, Henry

(1843 - 1916)
 “I adore adverbs; they are the only qualifications I really much respect.”

Born in New York into a wealthy family who were passionate about education and intellectual pursuits, Henry James was encouraged to broaden his mind and by the time he was 20 he had travelled extensively between America and Europe, where he found the differences in attitude and culture fascinating.  He attended Harvard University during the American Civil War intending to study law, but left after only a year having decided to concentrate on his writing.   He initially published book reviews, but once again took to travelling through Europe and entered the intellectual life in London where he met the leading literary figures of the time.  By 1876 he had taken to living in London permanently and started writing  what was to become a large body of work incorporating novels, short stories, essays and plays.  The influence of both his early time with his family in Europe and his travels during the 1870s became an integral part of this work and is central to his fiction, in which he explored the “idea” of Europe where he juxtaposed Old World experience and New World innocence.  James stated that there was no “contrast in the human lot so great as that encountered as we turn back and forth between the distinctively American and the distinctively European outlook”. 

One of the key figures of  American 19th century literary realism, James wrote insightful comments on politics, class and status but to define him purely as an American author is not entirely correct, as he spent most of his working life in England, becoming a British subject in 1915 only a year before he died of pneumonia.  His epitaph, written on his gravestone in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is probably the most accurate description of an author still widely admired today.

"Novelist, Citizen of Two Countries, Interpreter of His Generation On Both Sides Of The Sea"

Please scroll down to see our current collection of James first editions.



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JAMES, Henry

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