Thursday, 15 April 2010

On this day...

American author Henry James was born in 1843. The son of a great 19th century American intellectual, James spent much of his youth travelling to Europe, as he had tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, Bologna and Bonn. Such a prestigious education gained him a place at Harvard Law School, but he soon decided he preferred the study of literature, and quit.

James read a large volume of international literature, indulging in English, American, French, German and Russian works, and indeed several of his own early works, including 'The Portrait of a Lady', were based around the themes of travelling and expatriation. James himself gained British citizenship in 1915, as a protest to America's refusal to enter the First World War. During his own lifetime, James received only a limited readership, and indeed faced later criticism, notably from E.M. Forster, for a squemishness in his treatment of controversial issues. Yet now recognised as a literary great, James's most famous works include 'The Turn of the Screw' and 'The Wings of the Dove', as well as several novellas. James died in 1916, at the age of 72.  

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