April 29

This Day in History

Literary

Apr 29, 1875:

Henry James' Transatlantic Sketches is published

American writer Henry James' collection of travel pieces, Transatlantic Sketches, is published. The same year, James publishes a collection of stories, A Passionate Pilgrim, and a novel, Roderick Hudson. These three works herald the beginning of James' long and influential writing career.

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

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 naive, young Americans moving in sophisticated European circles. He wrote prolifically, nonfiction as well as fiction, and the prefaces to new editions of his novels have been collected in The Art of the Novel (1834).

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