Told through the lense of Henry James's relationship with two women who particularly shaped his writing, HENRY JAMES is a unforgettable read by one of our best-loved biographers.
In 1894 Henry James tried to drown a boatload of dresses belonging to the writer Constance Fenimore Woolson in the Venetian lagoon. She had fallen to her death from her Venice window three months before. James's elusive friendship with Fenimore echoed his mysterious relationship with Minny Temple who had died twenty years earlier at the age of twenty-four. From their graves they haunted his imagination, Minny inspiring the heroines of A PORTRAIT OF A LADY and THE WINGS OF THE DOVE, while Fenimore was resurrected in his stories and in his very vision of a writer's life.
Seeking out the hidden stories of the two women, Lyndall Gordon creates a new form of biography in which outward events are peeled back to glimpse unseen collaborators: women vital to the Master's art, who were kept under wraps.
A rich book in which it is a pleasure to become absorbed - Independent on Sunday - Claire Tomalin
Wonderfully full-blooded . . . A brilliant idea . . . superbly enjoyable material, much of it unfamiliar, all of it stimulating - Guardian - Philip Horne
Compelling . . . not an addition to the pile of "chronicle" biographies of Henry James . . . [The opening] is unforgettable, like a scene from a film . . . [This book] combines scholarly rigour with a nice line in nineteenth-century gothic - Daily Telegraph - Victoria Glendinning
Gordon's approach to biography is imaginative and risky . . . The result is a magnificent, important book, which points the way forward for the whole biographical genre - Literary Review - Kathryn Hughes