Henry James Essay Writing

By editing and promoting his writing, Lubbock would play a major part in creating one of the most enduring versions of James, that of the serious literary craftsman and thoughtful, scrupulous student of human nature.

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On some days he would be cogent and conversational, on others he would call in his secretary and earnestly dictate letters in the persona of Napoleon.

At times, his hand would move across the bedspread as through he imagined he was writing.

In January 1916, James was awarded the Order of Merit for services to literature over a 50-year career, during which he had written some 20 novels and over 100 short stories. He had a history of heart trouble and depression, and he found the anxiety and grief of wartime exhausting. One hundred years later, James’s cultural standing is higher than ever.

His work features in classic paperback series and university reading lists, and has been adapted for film, television and stage.

Henry James (1843-1916) was born on April 15, 1843 to Henry James, Sr., and his wife, Mary Walsh Robertson.

His older brother William was born in 1842, and younger siblings Garth Wilkinson, Robertson, and Alice were born in 1845, 1846, and 1848, respectively.

You might wonder where, a century on, we can ever find the real James. Like his creation Hugh Vereker in The Figure in the Carpet, he has vanished, leaving us to puzzle endlessly over his rich and multi-layered work. The fact that James’s work can be interpreted and reconfigured in so many different ways suggests that when we read his fiction, what we are really learning about is ourselves.

And that, of course, is the hallmark of a great writer.

The last piece of writing James worked on before he fell ill was an essay about the young English soldier-poet Rupert Brooke.

Brooke had died the previous April of blood poisoning on a troop ship in transit to Gallipoli, just weeks after the publication of his 1914 sonnets, including his best known poem, The Soldier.


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