Henry James’ first novel is published - HISTORY
Year
1875

Henry James’ first novel is published

On this day in 1875, American writer Henry James publishes his first novel, Roderick Hudson. Earlier in the year, he had published Transatlantic Sketches, a book of travel essays, and a short-story collection titled A Passionate Pilgrim.

James, born in New York in 1843, was the second son of a wealthy and eccentric philosopher. His older brother William became the country’s first distinguished psychologist as well as an influential 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 published his first story when he was 21. He soon became a regularly 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 among 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).

ALSO ON THIS DAY

American vessel sunk by sperm whale

The American whaler Essex, which hailed from Nantucket, Massachusetts, is attacked by an 80-ton sperm whale 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America.The 238-ton Essex was in pursuit of sperm whales, specifically the precious oil and bone that could be derived from ...read more

Nuremberg trials begin

Twenty-four high-ranking Nazis go on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, for atrocities committed during World War II.The Nuremberg Trials were conducted by an international tribunal made up of representatives from the United States, the Soviet Union, France, and Great Britain. It was ...read more

Nuremberg war-crimes trials begin

On this day in 1945, a series of trials of accused Nazi war criminals, conducted by a U.S., French, and Soviet military tribunal based in Nuremberg, Germany, begins. Twenty-four former Nazi officials were tried, and when it was all over, one year later, half would be sentenced to ...read more

Cal beats Stanford as band blocks field

On November 20, 1982, the Cal football team wins an improbable last-second victory over Stanford when they complete five lateral passes around members of the Cardinals’ marching band, who had wandered onto the field a bit early to celebrate the upset they were sure their team had ...read more

Explosions rock West Virginia coal mine

Methane gas explosions in a West Virginia coal mine kill 78 men on this day in 1968. The damage to the mine was so extensive that it had to be sealed with the bodies of the men still inside.The Consol No. 9 mine was located about 10 miles from the town of Monongah, between ...read more

Trials open at Nuremberg

The International Military Tribunal for the Prosecution of Major War Criminals of the European Axis begins trying German war criminals at Nuremberg, Germany, on this day in 1945. Following Germany’s defeat in World War II, Winston Churchill planned to shoot top German and Nazi ...read more

Sherman on the move

On this day in 1864, nearly a week into the famous March to the Sea, the army of Union General William T. Sherman moves toward central Georgia, destroying property and routing small militia units it its path. Advanced units of the army skirmished with scattered Rebel forces at ...read more