Who Was Henry James?
Henry James (1843-1916), was an American born novelist, writer and a critic, who settled in England in 1875. During his lifetime he wrote 20 novels, 112 tales, and 12 plays in addition to several volumes of travel writing and criticism. Today he is best remembered as the author of the novel The Portrait of a Lady (1881) and the novella The Turn of the Screw (1898).
Henry James was a key transitional figure between literary realism and Modernism. James was interested in human behaviour and the inner workings of the mind. In his novels, he employed Modernist techniques such as stream-of-consciousness narration to explore the psychology of his characters, focusing in particular on the effect of external events on individual consciousness.
What was the theme of Henry James early novels? The conflict between American and European society was a theme of his early novels, such as The American (1877) and The Europeans (1878). Later works became more experimental in technique, and included unsuccessful plays, but he returned to his original interest with his last and most subtle novels, like The Ambassadors (1903).
The son and brother of famous philosophers, James is a thinking person’s novelist. As a critic he had a great influence on the modern novel. Today his ghost story, The Turn of the Screw, is one of his most popular works.
Henry James spent the last several years of his life in Great Britain. In protest of U.S. neutrality in World War I, James resigned his U.S. citizenship and became a British subject in 1915. He died of pneumonia on February 28, 1916, a year before the United States entered the war.