Henry James
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...the family group had driven down the Rue Saint-Honore, passing the Place Vendome, site of the Colonne Vendome with its statue of Napoleon. James was less than two years old, but the image of the memorial column dominating the urban perspective, framed by the clear window of the carriage, stamped itself on his mind. For the rest of his life, he would be fascinated by the elements of this scene, and they would recur again and again in his life and fiction; transatlantic travel, human relationships, the power of memory, the encounter with art and architecture, the glamour of fame and perhaps most of all, the impact of an external impression on the observing mind.

Henry James, unarguably a key figure in nineteenth-century realism, wrote using such innovative literary techniques that his works revolutionised discussions of consciousness and perception in novels. Though renowned for the psychological depth that he created in his characters and his remarkable ability to penetrate to the inner life of his creations, the story of James' own life seems curiously hard to unravel.

The best known facts about James - his illustrious, wealthy family and famous siblings; his prolific literary output with its numerous quirky female heroines; his long-term bachelorhood, and the rumours that accompanied it; and his flamboyant adoption of British citizenship in 1915 - have all served to create a mythology surrounding the author. In this succinct new biography, Dr Hazel Hutchison examines the writer's childhood, travels, experiences and acquaintances, all of which reappear to varying degrees in his writing. Brief Lives: Henry James presents a fresh take on one of the central figures in the English canon, perfect for both the general reader and the James enthusiast.
Dr Hazel Hutchison lectures in British and American literature at the University of Aberdeen and is the author of Seeing and Believing: Henry James and the Spiritual World (2006).