August 30

This Day in History

Literary

Aug 30, 1904:

Henry James returns to the U.S.

Henry James returns to the U.S. for a visit after living abroad for two decades.

James was born to a wealthy and eccentric philosopher father in 1843 in New York, N.Y. His older brother, William, became the country's first distinguished psychologist as well as a well-known philosopher. The brothers and their younger siblings were taken abroad by their parents for four years to study European culture during their teens. The family roamed England, Switzerland, and France, visiting galleries, museums, theaters, and libraries.

A back injury exempted James from serving in the Civil War, and he briefly attended Harvard Law School. He began writing fiction in his teens, and his first story was published when he was 21. He soon became a regular contributor of essays, reviews, and stories to Atlantic Monthly and other important periodicals. In 1873, James moved to England and continued publishing reviews while writing many more novels, including The American (1877) and the popular Daisy Miller (1878). In 1881, he published his masterpiece The Portrait of a Lady. Like many of his other works, it deals with naÝve, young Americans moving in sophisticated European circles. He wrote nonfiction as well as fiction, and the prefaces to new editions of his novels were collected in The Art of the Novel (1834).

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