Henry James OM (15 April 1843 28 February 1916) was an American-born British author of the Victorian Age. Although he became known for writing realist novels about everyday life, his works spanned a wide range of subjects and formats. Despite being born and growing up in the United States, he spent most of his adult life in Europe and became a British citizen a year before his death. Accordingly, one of his favorite subjects was the cultural and psychological difference between the denizens of the old world and the new.
Works by Henry James include:
- The Bostonians
- Daisy Miller
- The Europeans
- The Portrait of a Lady
- Washington Square
- What Maisie Knew
- The Wings Of The Dove
- The Turn of the Screw
- "The Romance of Certain Old Clothes"
Other works by Henry James contain examples of:
- British Stuffiness: Subverted. James often depicted American characters who were as stuffy as (and sometimes more stuffy than) their British counterparts.
- Obfuscating Stupidity. Such as in The Ambassadors or The American. Henry James liked using tact as a tool to limit how much information he was giving out.
- Passion Is Evil: Lambert Strether in The Ambassadors starts out believing this, but he changes his mind.
- Purple Prose: James wrote in very long and finely crafted sentences.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The short story "The Real Thing" deserves to be a Trope Codifier: the narrator is an artist who wants to paint a picture of a fictional upper-class family, and who's delighted when he's approached by a down-at-heel but real-life upper-class couple who need cash and are willing to be models for him. He soon finds that they're useless models because they're incapable of seeming like they're who they are, and he goes back to hiring working-class men and women, who are far more relaxed as subjects and who can seem like they're anyone he wants them to be.
- Unreliable Narrator: His works are often filtered through the perceptions of their point of view subject with a biased or incomplete understanding of the events they perceive. In What Maisie Knew, the complex romantic lives of two people are perceived by their young daughter, who does not understand most of what is going on.
- Wall of Text: James' writing style evolved into extraordinarily long sentences and paragraphs that run for pages. The effect can be very vivid, but it's also very easy to become lost in the avalanche of words.
- Wife Husbandry: In Watch and Ward, 29-year-old Roger Lawrence adopts 12-year-old Nora Lambert and grooms her to marry him several years later.
Trivia about Henry James:
- Referenced by...: Hark! A Vagrant: A cover of an edition of The Ambassadors is used in one of the Edward Gorey book cover comics. It presents the ambassadors as being for concepts rather than nations.