Henry James was a gifted writer, who had talents in literature, psychology and philosophy. He wrote 20 novels, 112 stories, 12 plays and a number of literary criticisms. He was, and still is, one of the greatest American novelists and critics. Being a master of the psychological novel, James was an innovator in technique and one of the most distinctive prose stylists in English.
He was born in New York City on April 15th, 1843 as a second son into a wealthy family. As his father was one of the best-known intellectuals in the mid-nineteenth century in America, he had the opportunity to move in affluent, fashionable circles and be in touch with different, well-known people, for example Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Bronson Alcott.
In his youth James travelled back and forth between America and Europe, therefore he did not have a chance to get a proper education but what he did get was a chance to learn all about Europe and the lifestyle of the people living there.
He studied with tutors in Geneva, London, Paris, Bologna and Bonn. From an early age he read, criticized, and learned from the classics of English, American, French, Italian, German and Russian literature.
In 1860 the family returned to America and settled in Newport, where James was introduced to the works of the great French novelist Honoré de Balzac. He learned from him the mystery of the craft of fiction more than from anyone else. The Civil War interrupted his life and Henry was unable to enlist due to a slipped disc, an injury which caused him many troubles throughout his life.
In 1862 he went to Harvard to study law but he never finished it. He published his first short story 'A Tragedy of Errors''. His literary career began the same year as Hawthorne's came to an end. If Balzac was the major foreign influence on James, Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the principal American influences. James wrote many... [continues]
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