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A Henry James Timeline [imagemap with 8 links]

Personal Events | Professional Events | World Events


Personal events

1840:Henry James's parents marry
In July Henry James (1811-1882), the independently wealthy son of Albany entrepreneur William James, marries Mary Robertson Walsh (1810-1882) of Washington Square in New York City.

1842:William James is born
On January 11 William, Henry and Mary James's first son, is born. He will become the most prominent American philosopher and psychologist of his era.

1843:Henry James is born
Henry James Jr. is born at Washington Square in Manhattan on April 15, the second son of Henry and Mary James.

The James family moves to Europe
In October the James family makes their first move to Europe, living in both England and France. While in England, Henry Sr. suffers a nervous breakdown. The religious ideas of Emmanuel Swedenborg are instrumental in his recovery.

1845:The James family returns to America
After a two-year stay in Europe, the Jameses move to Albany, New York. This year marks the beginning of a 10-year stay in America, Henry Jr.'s longest consecutive residence in his native land.

Wilky James is born
In July Henry and Mary James's third child and son, Garth Wilkinson ("Wilky"), is born in New York City.

1846:Bob James is born
In August Mary James gives birth to the fourth son and child in a five-year period, Robertson ("Bob").

1847:The James family moves to New York City
The family moves into a fashionable home on W. 14th Street which they hope will be their permanent residence. Henry will remember this home as the family's most settled. His education, on the other hand, is anything but.

1848:Alice James is born
In August, Alice James, the first daughter and fifth and last child of Henry and Mary James, is born in the family home in New York City.

1851:Henry Jr. and William enroll in school
In September Henry Sr. enrolls his eldest sons in the Institution Vergn¸s, chosen for its French curriculum. "As if continuity were a vice," he moves them to a second school in 1852, and to still another in 1854.

1854:Aunt Kate marries
Henry's 40-year-old Aunt Kate marries for the first time. Until now, she has lived with the family. She won't be gone long; within the year, Kate and her husband separate, and she returns to the James home.

1855:The James family returns to Europe
The family moves to Switzerland in August. After only two months of living in Geneva, the family resettles in Paris, then London, the move motivated by Henry Sr.'s disappointment in the Swiss schools. In London the children are instructed by tutors.

1856:The James family settles in Paris
Henry Sr. wants the children to improve their French, so the family returns to Paris. During the two-year stay, Henry Sr. idealizes his home country. Charles Dickens is the Jameses's neighbor on the Champs-Élysées, but they never meet him.

1858:The Jameses move to Rhode Island
Attracted by its genteel wealth, Henry Sr. chooses Newport as his family's new home. William and Henry love Newport and do not want to return to Europe. For the first time Henry Jr. feels a sense of belonging.

1859:The James family returns to Geneva
Distressed by his sons' desire to attend college, and by the American "characteristics of extravagance and insubordination" which he fears they are adopting, Henry Sr. decides to move his family back to Europe. William is openly disgusted, Henry internally so.

James goes to a polytechnic school
Although previously dissatisfied by Swiss schools, Henry Sr. now enrolls Henry Jr. at the Institution Rochette, a polytechnic school for aspiring engineers. Henry hates it and longs to be back in Newport.

1860:Henry Sr. moves back to America for good
After a brief stay in Bonn, Germany, in September the Jameses return to Newport so that William can study painting under William Morris Hunt.

James befriends Mary "Minny" Temple
Reuniting with his six orphaned Temple cousins, Henry begins to spend time with his favorite, 17-year-old Minny. "In a world in which women were predictably conditioned into narrow roles, Minny had managed by sheer force of personality to be exceptional."

Bob and Wilky enroll in Concord Academy
In September Henry's younger brothers, Bob and Wilky, enroll in Concord Academy, run by Harpers Ferry conspirator Franklin Sanborn. The abolitionist values they learn here influence their decision to enlist in the Union army during the Civil War.

1861:James is injured in a fire
Helping to extinguish a stable fire in Newport, Henry suffers a back injury that, although dormant for a year and essentially undiagnosable by physicians, will keep him out of the Civil War and plague him for the rest of his life.

William James enrolls at Harvard
At the outbreak of the Civil War, William enters Harvard, honoring his father's wishes by studying chemistry. Three years later, with the family fortune dwindling, he transfers to Harvard Medical School. After many detours in his schooling, William will eventually earn his degree in 1869.

1862:James goes to law school
Henry is eager to do something during the Civil War other than be "just literary." Surprisingly, his father allows him to enroll in Harvard Law School. Law doesn't grip him, though, and he decides to become a full-time writer.

The younger brothers go to war
Wilky and Bob enlist in the Union army. Both brothers fight as officers with all-black regiments; Wilky, in fact, is high in the chain of command in the 54th, Colonel Shaw's Massachusetts regiment (dramatized in the film Glory).

1863:Wilky is wounded
On July 18 Wilky is severely wounded when Colonel Shaw's regiment storms Fort Wagner in South Carolina. More than 1,500 Union Soldiers die, including Shaw. The attack fails.

1864:The James family moves to Boston
To be closer to William and Henry, at school in Cambridge, Henry Sr. moves his family from Newport, Rhode Island, to the Back Bay area of Boston.

Nathaniel Hawthorne dies
In May Henry learns that Nathaniel Hawthorne has died. It is Hawthorne's writing that convinces Henry "that an American could be an artist, one of the finest, without going 'outside' about it."

1865:Abraham Lincoln is assassinated
On April 15, Henry's 22nd birthday, President Lincoln dies.

William James sails for Brazil
William joins Harvard naturalist Louis Agassiz's scientific expedition to Brazil. While there, William is temporarily blinded after contracting a smallpox-like ailment. He decides to pursue "a speculative life," not fieldwork.

1866:The Jameses move to Cambridge
After losing the lease on their Boston home, the Jameses relocate temporarily to the suburban resort of Swampscott. Shortly thereafter they return to city living, in Cambridge.

James meets William Dean Howells
In Cambridge, Henry meets William Dean Howells, the assistant editor for The Atlantic Monthly and an accomplished prose writer. Howells and Henry Jr., a former expatriate and a would-be expatriate, respectively, develop a lifelong personal and professional bond.

1867:Henry meets Charles Dickens
Henry meets Dickens at a dinner party. He would later recall the meeting "as a confrontation with his own future." Henry hopes to one day be acknowledged, like Dickens, "as the representative of both art and life."

1868:Bob and Wilky James's business fails
In Florida, Bob and Wilky manage a cotton plantation whose laborers are freed black slaves. As the idealistic venture fails, Bob in particular takes the failure hard, "alternat[ing] between alcoholic binges, sexual adventures, and guilty remorse."

1869:James goes to Europe alone
After William returns from his 18-month stay abroad, Henry travels to Europe, also to cure his "elusive ills." In London he gains entry into artistic circles, socializing with Leslie Stephen (Virginia Woolf's father), the socialist artist William Morris, and the painter Gabriele Rossetti.

James meets George Eliot
In May Henry meets his revered George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans). He considers her the only English novelist "to have powers of thought at all commensurate with [her] powers of imagination." George Eliot is also a favorite of Minny Temple's.

1870:Minny Temple dies of tuberculosis
On March 8 Minny Temple dies of tuberculosis. She will serve as the model for many of Henry's fictional heroines, most notably Isabel Archer in The Portrait of a Lady and Milly Theale in The Wings of the Dove.

James returns to America and begins a novel
In April, James and his Aunt Kate, who had recently joined him in Italy, sail for New York. Shortly after his return, he begins work on his first novel-length fiction, which will be called Watch and Ward.

1872:Henry, Alice, and Aunt Kate travel to Europe
To soothe her nerves, the Jameses send their daughter to Europe in the care of her brother and aunt. Alice is eager to be away from her parents, Henry to return to his beloved continent. Alice and Kate stay six months; Henry stays on until 1874.

William James begins to teach at Harvard
Appointed a lowly instructor in physiology, William lectures on the subject until 1876. His own mental sufferings plus earlier studies in Germany motivate him to investigate the physiology of the mind. The study of psychology in America will be transformed by his efforts.

1873:In Rome, James's social circle expands
Henry begins to socialize with other American expatriates, including acquaintance Lizzie Boott, Sarah Butler Wister (mother of The Virginian author Owen Wister), and actress Fanny Kemble (Sarah Wister's mother). All will influence his fictional characters.

1874:James strikes out on his own
After spending a disappointing summer in Baden-Baden, Henry sets sail for America in September. After a brief stay in Cambridge, he chooses to move to New York, where he can be away from family and support himself by writing.

1875:James moves to Paris
Hired as a correspondent for the New York Tribune to write letters from France, Henry moves to Paris in the middle of November, planning to pursue his fiction-writing career also. Still partially supported by his parents, he hopes to become self-sufficient.

James meets Turgenev and Flaubert
Only 10 days after moving to Paris, Henry arranges to meet Russian expatriate Ivan Turgenev, who he considers the greatest living novelist. Shortly thereafter, he meets French realist Gustave Flaubert, whose work comes to influence James's own.

1876:James falls in love
Henry becomes smitten with the Russian Paul Joukowsky, a young hanger-on of Turgenev. Although the handsome and wealthy amateur painter captivates Henry for some time, within a few years, Joukowsky's openly homosexual behavior will deeply offend him.

James moves to London
Bored with Paris, and believing he would be "an eternal outsider" there, James moves to London in December. He believes that English-American subjects will be more fruitful for fiction than French-American.

1877:James's social life booms
Henry has no shortage of social invitations once back in London. The sought-after bachelor and rising literary star counts among his new acquaintances Robert Browning and Anthony Trollope.

James meets John Addington Symonds
A husband and father, the openly homosexual John Addington Symonds associates homosexuality with "ideal Greek values" and will serve as the model for characters in two of Henry's most homoerotic stories, "The Author of Beltraffio" and "The Pupil."

1878:William James marries
At age 36, Henry's brother William marries Alice Howe Gibbens, who meets with the approval of all the family except sister Alice, who has a nervous breakdown. Marriage stabilizes William psychologically, physically, and professionally.

1879:William James's first son is born
On May 18, Alice Howe James gives birth to Henry III ("Harry"). The birth of the child confirms William's sense of independence and also masculinity. They will have four more children, one of whom will die in infancy in 1885.

1880:James meets Constance Fenimore Woolson
James and Constance Fenimore Woolson, a distant relative of James Fenimore Cooper and herself an expatriate writer, meet in Florence. Over the years, they develop a mysterious relationship in which James' devotion to Minny Temple is nearly rivaled.

1881:Alice visits her brother in London
Henry returns to London in July for a visit from Alice, who arrives with her frequent travel companion, Katherine Loring. Henry and Willliam's wife both speculate that the relationship is "an affair of the heart."

James finally returns to America
After several postponements, Henry sets sail for America in October, with The Portrait of a Lady having just been published. He stays at his parents' Quincy Street house and then seeks privacy at a Boston hotel.

James is reunited with Wilky
After not seeing his brother Wilky for 11 years, Henry visits with him at Christmastime.

1882:Mary James dies
While visiting Henry Adams in Washington, D.C., Henry receives word that his mother is ill. The 36-hour train ride from Washington to Cambridge prevents him from reaching home in time, and she dies before his arrival.

James finds Bob in London
Sailing to London in mid-May, Henry finds his brother Bob in his London flat, "nervous and depressed" after an unsuccessful stint in the Azores in which he had hoped to establish himself as an artist with Henry footing the bill.

Henry James Sr. dies
Henry Sr. starves himself over the course of the year following his wife's death. Henry Jr, arrives from London a day too late for the funeral. William is also absent. Henry Jr. is surprised to learn that he is the sole executor of his father's will.

Henry reads the will
Thought to smack of Aunt Kate's influence, the children regard the will as heartless. Wilky, who has been diagnosed with a fatal illness, is left nothing, while most of the estate goes to Alice, for her care. Henry negotiates with his siblings to restore Wilky a share.

1883:Alice is hospitalized
After her father's death, Alice experiences numerous breakdowns. During the summer she is hospitalized at the Adams Nervine Asylum in Jamaica Plain (an area near Boston), where she receives electric shock treatment.

Henry returns to London
Upon his return to London, the now 40-year-old Henry is increasingly confronted with discussions of his bachelorhood, and advice on how to end it. But Henry writes: "I shall never marry; I regard that now as an established fact...."

Wilky dies
After a yearlong battle with Bright's disease, Wilky dies at 38. Henry is distraught to learn that he will be buried in Milwaukee, where he lived and died, and not beside their parents in Cambridge.

Turgenev dies
Henry's mentor dies at the end of this year. In January 1884 Henry memorializes him with a personal essay in The Atlantic.

1884:Alice moves to England
Suffering more frequent breakdowns, Alice joins Henry in London. Because Katherine Loring is tending to her own ill sister, Henry has primary responsibility for Alice. She will spend the rest of her life in England near her brother, but not living with him.

1885:James moves to Bournemouth
At the beginning of the year, Alice joins Katherine Loring in Bournemouth, where her friend has hired a nurse to care for her. Three months later, Henry moves there indefinitely.

James befriends Robert Louis Stevenson
Ill with tuberculosis, Robert Louis Stevenson is "the most considerable charm of Bournemouth." Stevenson's presence is a relief to Henry, who misses his literary companions in London. Once Stevenson left Bournemouth, restless though ill, the two writers' contact faded.

Katherine Loring takes over
With her sister's health improved, Katherine moves to Bournemouth to tend to Alice. Though Henry has enjoyed his time there, by July he is eager to travel and visits Dover. Two months later he will sail for a month-long trip to Paris.

1886:James takes a permanent home
After an adulthood of wandering, Henry signs a 21-year lease on a large flat at 34 De Vere Gardens, Kensington, London. "It is an anchorage for life," he says.

James leaves London
Henry spends eight months in Italy, sharing a villa in Florence with Constance Fenimore Woolson. Although they are "perfectly innocent," he keeps his living arrangements a secret. Three of Woolson's stories track the disappointment and joy that their friendship brings her.
1887:Katherine Loring leaves England
Alice's partial recovery dissipates when Katherine leaves for Boston in the fall. For Henry Katherine's departure means a significant loss of personal freedom; Alice's care now becomes his primary responsibility. By the winter, her health improves.

1888:Lizzie Boott dies
Lizzie Boott, whom Henry has known for 24 years, since his days in Newport, dies suddenly after a bout with pneumonia. Both Henry and Alice are devastated by her sudden death.

Henry vacations with "Fenimore"
In October Henry travels to Geneva with Constance Fenimore Woolson. He tells no one of his plans, only that he is going abroad. When Alice learns the truth, she writes William and Aunt Kate that Henry is "galavanting [sic] on the continent with a she-novelist".

Wolcott Balestier becomes James's agent
As Henry's literary agent, the American Balestier encourages James in his playwriting efforts, but the relationship ends suddenly with Balestier's death at age 30, in 1891. In 1892, Henry will give away Balestier's sister at her marriage to Rudyard Kipling.

1889:Aunt Kate dies
After a series of strokes, Catherine Walsh dies, stunning the James family when she leaves them almost nothing from her substantial estate. Alice, who had felt a kinship with her aunt, takes the rejection especially hard.

James develops intimate relationships
During the next decade, Henry enters into intimate nonsexual relationships with two young Americans. Jonathan Sturges is as sickly as Morton Fullerton is promiscuous. Both men become involved with Oscar Wilde's circle, independent of Henry.

1890:William James's reputation is established
After 10 years of work, William completes The Principles of Psychology. Originally commissioned as a textbook, its two volumes revolutionize thinking and practice in the field and elevate him to world fame.

1892:Alice dies on March 6
Alice dies in London after a yearlong struggle with breast cancer. Katherine Loring prints four copies of Alice's diaries, which detail her three years in London. Fearing embarrassment, Henry hopes to publish the diaries only after editing them and after burning the originals.

William describes "stream of consciousness"
While living in Cambridge, William publishes Psychology: The Briefer Course and coins the phrase "stream of consciousness" (originally "stream of thought"), a nonlinear writing technique Henry uses to approximate internal thought in his later fiction.

1893:John Addington Symonds dies
Symonds dies of tuberculosis. He seemed to Henry "an education in degrees of self-exploration and self-revelation." Largely because of Symonds's ideas on homosexuality, during the late 1890s James becomes more open, privately, about his "homoeroticism."

1894:Constance Fenimore Woolson kills herself
A year after their last visit, "Fenimore" throws herself from a third-story window in her palazzo in Venice. She had long suffered from depression, and Henry fears that her disappointment with their relationship may have triggered her suicide.

James goes to Venice
To escape the London winter and to also help Constance's sister sort through her things, Henry travels to Italy. With the recent deaths of Lizzie Boott and Constance Woolson, much of his visit is devoted to mourning.

1895:Oscar Wilde is imprisoned
Wilde is sentenced to two years' hard labor under a British law which prohibits even consensual homosexual acts. Though repulsed by Wilde's flamboyance, Henry is distressed by the severity of the sentence. He will not, however, sign a petition calling for leniency.

1897:William James dedicates a memorial to the 54th
William delivers a speech at the Boston Common at the dedication of the memorial sculpture to Robert Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts, the all-black Civil War regiment in which Wilky served. William makes no mention of either of his brothers' service in the War.

Bob arrives unexpectedly
Henry receives an unwelcome visit from his brother Bob in August. The brothers have not seen each other for 14 years. That December, when the depressed Bob returns for a second visit, Henry is relieved that this visit, too, proves to be short.

James moves to Rye
Weary of constant travel, but not wanting to stay in London year round, Henry leases and then buys Lamb House in quiet Rye, England. This will be his home for the rest of his life.

1898:James reacts to the Dreyfus Affair
Henry supports Zola as he protests the anti-Semitic Dreyfus affair in his "J'Accuse!" Of all types of "fanaticism," Henry is particularly opposed to anti-Semitism because of what he perceives as its cultural implications.

A literary community develops
Rye's small literary community is greatly appreciated by the sometimes-lonely Henry. Among Rye's residents and frequent visitors (though not particular friends of James) are H.G. Wells, Stephen Crane, Ford Madox Ford, and Joseph Conrad.

1899:James goes abroad again
For the first time in five years, Henry visits Paris and then Italy. In Genoa he meets another young man with whom he will be in love for the next few years, the young Norwegian-born American sculptor Hendrik Andersen.

William James health breaks downs
After a traumatic physical and psychological experience at his summer home in the Adirondacks, William suffers mental difficulties again as well as a weakened heart. A sabbatical to Europe turns into two years of invalidism.

1901:William James investigates Religion
Invited to give the annual Gifford lectures on "natural religion" at the University of Edinburgh, William delivers a two-year series of talks that draw ever-larger crowds. The talks are published as The Varieties of Religious Experience.

1904:James returns to America
For the first time in 20 years, Henry sails to America for a lecture tour with much trepidation. He finds America nearly unrecognizable, a new, technological world. He spends most of his time visiting Edith Wharton and William.

James visits the family graves
In November, Henry visits the graves of his parents and sister for the first time. This is what he considered the mission of his trip.

1905:James dines at the White House
A potentially awkward evening goes smoothly when Henry dines at the White House with President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1894 Roosevelt had blasted James in print as a "miserable little snob" and Anglophile; in response, Henry had called Roosevelt's writings "puerile."

James heads south and west
Seeking relief from the New England cold, Henry takes a tour of the South, his ultimate destination Florida, where Bob's wife and daughter are spending the winter. He also crosses the country for the first time and is shocked to discover that he loves southern California.

James sails back to England
Certain that this has been his final trip to his homeland, Henry returns to England in July. At 62, he does not want to travel much anymore.

1906:San Francisco's earthquake catches William
Henry fears William and his wife are dead when he learns of the catastrophe. Newly arrived at Stanford for a lecture series, William and Alice are both unharmed, but it takes a week for the news to reach Henry.

1907:James visits Paris
Taking a break from the arduous task of compiling the "New York Edition" of his writings, The Novels and Tales of Henry James, Henry stays in Paris for two months, where he visits with old friends, including Edith Wharton.

William James publishes Pragmatism
William publishes a series of later lectures in Pragmatism: A New Name for Old Ways of Thinking. The theory of the pragmatic method, according to James, is that the meaning of ideas is found only in terms of their possible consequences.

1908:James becomes disillusioned
Dismayed by the public's indifference to his "New York Edition" and the meager royalties it generates, Henry, now 65, spirals into a deep depression. He will never complete another novel.

1910:Depression claims "the master"
In January Henry is bedridden and unable to eat. From across the Atlantic, William diagnoses it as a nervous breakdown. Despite his own failing health, William and his wife come to England to look after Henry and to seek medical treatment for William.

Brother Bob dies
In June, Bob James suffers a fatal heart attack. As he lived, he dies -- alone and far away from his family.

William James dies
The effort to help his brother has worn William out, and the eldest James dies in Chocorua, New Hampshire, on August 26. Disconsolate, Henry spends nearly a year at William's house in Cambridge, consulting doctors and psychologists in Manhattan.

1911:James receives an honorary degree
Though in and out of depression, Henry is eager to go home to England. He postpones his departure when he is offered an honorary degree from Harvard, which he is awarded at commencement ceremonies on June 28.

James returns to England
Henry crosses the Atlantic for the last time, returning to Rye in August and moving to London soon thereafter. For much of the next year, Henry suffers from angina, though rarely so ill that he can't work. He cuts back on his socializing significantly.

1913:James sits for Sargent
To commemorate Henry's 70th birthday, longtime friend John Singer Sargent paints a large-scale oil portrait of him. Henry is delighted by the tribute, and insists it go to the National Portrait Gallery upon completion.

1914:James's portrait is attacked
A militant suffragette slashes Henry's portrait as it hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. Her attack is not aimed at Henry James personally, but is designed to gain attention for her cause. Henry feels cut himself.

James joins the war effort
Henry participates in a charitable organization that assists Belgian refugees, and he visits the wounded in hospitals. In doing so he emulates Walt Whitman, one of his heroes, who served as a nurse during the Civil War.

1915:James becomes a British citizen
On July 28, disgusted that the United States hasn't joined the Anglo-French cause, Henry James becomes a British citizen.

James's health is failing
By the summer, Henry is experiencing depression and loss of appetite again, as well as shortness of breath. He returns to Lamb House for a brief visit in October, but it will be his last.

James suffers a stroke
On December 2, James suffers a stroke in his Chelsea flat which paralyzes his left side. The following day he suffers another stroke; there is no further paralysis, and his speech is not affected. He is, however, beginning to show signs of delirium.

William's widow, Alice, arrives
Determined for Henry to be surrounded by family, his sister-in-law arrives to sit with him on December 14. Though in the midst of delusions, he recognizes her and is happy to see her.

1916:James receives the Order of Merit
In a process rushed along by his friends, Henry James is awarded the Order of Merit on January 1. Though he seems pleased, by this time his reactions are quite dull.

Henry James dies
On February 28, Henry James dies. Though his funeral is in London, his sister-in-law Alice refuses to have him buried in England. She transports his cremated remains, undeclared, back to America for burial with his family in the Cambridge Cemetery.


Professional events

1864:"A Tragedy of Error"
In February James's first story, "A Tragedy of Error," is published anonymously in Continental Monthly. He later appears as an anonymous book reviewer for the North American Review.

1865:"The Story of a Year"
Although James T. Fields, The Atlantic Monthly's editor, is not entirely enthusiastic about James's penchant for unhappy endings, he publishes James's Civil War story, "The Story of a Year." It is his first published under his own name.

The Nation
Henry begins a long relationship with The Nation. He has nine reviews published within his first year; in 1866, 12; in 1867, 10; and in 1868, 16. He contributes reviews on French literature, modern British and American fiction, and essays.

1866:"A Landscape Painter"
In February Henry publishes his first of many stories about artists, "A Landscape Painter." It is his second story to appear in The Atlantic Monthly.

1871:Watch and Ward
The Atlantic Monthly serializes his first novel, Watch and Ward, though it will not be published as a book for another seven years.

1875:Roderick Hudson
In November, Roderick Hudson published in Boston. Also serialized in The Atlantic, it is Henry's first novel published in book form. A Passionate Pilgrim and Other Tales and Transatlantic Sketches are also published this year.

1876:Exceptional productivity
In Paris during the spring, James begins to write The American. During the next five years he will complete five novels, 10 stories, numerous essays, and a biography of Hawthorne.

1877:The American
The American, begun in Paris in 1875 and serialized in The Atlantic, achieves respectable popularity on its publication in book form. Many readers, accustomed not to realism but to the Victorian novel, are disappointed by the novel's unhappy, unmarrying ending.

James develops an interest in theater
During a visit to Paris in the summer, Henry sees a play starring a former schoolmate. For the first time Henry recognizes the power of the stage. He envies the fame, fortune, and public acceptance that playwrights enjoy.

1878:The Europeans
The Europeans is published. In this novel, James confronts the conflict inherent in an American's choice to live in England over America, and "the insufficiency of both his options."

"Daisy Miller"
James's story "Daisy Miller" is a major popular success. The story, which is a big hit with the British middle class upon its publication in Leslie Stephen's The Cornhill Magazine, is an even bigger hit when published on its own in pamphlet form by Harper's in New York.

French Poets and Novelists
The publication of James's first collection of criticism marks the end of a successful year for him. The well-received collection does not attain the same level of popularity as "Daisy Miller," but it furthers James's reputation as a man of letters.

1879:Hawthorne
James's biography of Hawthorne allows James to confront some of his own issues as a novelist working for money (like Hawthorne) and as an expatriate writer (unlike Hawthorne).

1880:Washington Square
James makes obvious use of his large circle of acquaintances, basing the plot of Washington Square on an anecdote told him by his friend, the famous actress Fanny Kemble.

James travels to Italy
After repeatedly retracting his promise to visit Lizzie Boott in Italy, James travels to Florence in March. Still stinging from the poor reception of his Hawthorne, he begins The Portrait of a Lady. He will stay in Italy until October.

1881:The Portrait of a Lady
Serialized in Macmillans's Magazine and The Atlantic Monthly, the characters in The Portrait of a Lady are heavily influenced by James' personal relationships: Isabel Archer reflects his cousin Minny Temple; Gilbert Osmond, Francis Boott; and Pansy, Boott's daughter and James's dear friend, Lizzie.

1882:James adapts "Daisy Miller" for the stage
Eager for theatrical success, James adapts "Daisy Miller." Despite his new happy ending, New York producers call it "too literary." They "behaved like asses and sharpers combined," said James. "This episode... would make a brilliant chapter in a realistic novel."

James pursues the "Daisy Miller" play
Henry's play form of "Daisy Miller" meets with a cool reception from still another stage manager. When the play is published in book form later that year, critics pan it.

1883:Novels and Tales
Macmillan Company in London publishes the 14-volume collection Novels and Tales. At the same time James is writing "Lady Barberina."

A Little Tour of France
James's collection of travel writing, A Little Tour of France, is serialized in The Atlantic and published as a book in 1885.

1884:James begins The Bostonians
James writes The Bostonians. The relationship of Verena Tarrant and Olive Chancellor is based on that of his sister's with Katherine Loring. James calls it "a study of one of those friendships between women which are so common in New England."

1886:James completes two novels
James completes both The Bostonians and The Princess of Casamassima.

1888:The Reverberator
Inspired by his visit to Italy, James writes the novel The Reverberator. Also during this year he will complete the short novel The Aspern Papers.

A profitable year
James has his most profitable year yet, earning roughly $9,000 from his writings. He will never again make so much money.

1890:The Tragic Muse
James completes his first novel of the new decade, The Tragic Muse. He expresses through his main character his own "distaste for the 'basest concessions' that a playwright who hopes to be produced must make to an audience...."

James dramatizes The American
Actor Edward Compton writes to James, suggesting he dramatize The American, and pays an advance of £250. In spite of his failure with "Daisy Miller," Henry eagerly takes on the project, again changing the ending to a happier one.

1891:The American opens
On opening near Liverpool, The American is received enthusiastically. A London critic's review, however, is lukewarm; damning it by saying it will only be a success outside of London. Indeed, the play only runs 70 nights when it opens in the city.

The Prince of Wales attends The American
James's struggling play gets a boost when Edward, the Prince of Wales, attends a show. Henry is unwilling to admit defeat and resents the fact that the Prince is more responsible for its success than the play itself.

1892:Disengaged is discontinued
James's Disengaged, a comedy, attracts the attention of American producer Augustin Daly, who wants to rename it Mrs. Jasper's Way. Although written and with star Ada Rehan attached, the play is never performed.

The Lesson of the Master
While pursuing his ill-fated career as a playwright, James continues to write fiction, publishing the short story collection The Lesson of the Master.

1893:Guy Domville
James writes Guy Domville, another attempt to capture the London stage, but the play is not produced until 1895. The Private Life and The Real Thing and Other Stories are published.

1894:Tenants
James writes the comic play Tenants, but not one producer is interested in taking it on.

1894:Guy Domville is produced
James persuades matinee idol George Alexander to produce and star in his new priod drama, Guy Domville. Critics are positive, but audiences despise it. To James's chagrin, rival Oscar Wilde has huge hits.

1895:The Spoils of Poynton
Having spent the first half of the decade writing plays, James returns to the novel with The Spoils of Poynton. It is serialized, and then published in 1897. He experiences a bit of a slump in popularity for the next several years.

The Awkward Age
The novel The Awkward Age is serialized. The book is published in 1899. It meets with very little popularity.

1896:Two short stories published
"The Figure in the Carpet" is serialized and later published in Embarrassments. This is followed by one of James's most famous and most popular stories, "The Turn of the Screw," which garners commercial success and high praise and interest from psychologists.

The Other House
The novel The Other House is published.

1897:What Maisie Knew
The novel What Maisie Knew is a return of sorts for James. With its strong female protagonist, the novel is more lucid and morally complicated than much of his later work.

1900:The Soft Side
James publishes what will be his final collection of short stories.

1901:The Sacred Fount
The novel is published. James's readership is at a low point.

1902:The Wings of the Dove
Another flawed heroine's struggle with money and marriage, Wings represents a departure in James's writing style. More obtuse, it reflects greater concern with philosophy and less with plot. It marks the beginning of his last great burst of productivity.

1903:The Ambassadors
The second of his three dictated novels (The Wings of the Dove is the first, The Golden Bowl the last), The Ambassadors tackles James's lifelong concern with the international theme. James thinks this novel "the most formally perfect" of his works.

1904:The Golden Bowl
Henry's last major novel is published, its subject, once again, the American-European cultural conflict. The Golden Bowl is considered by many critics to be his most sophisticated and poetic novel. Henry calls it "the best book I have ever done."

Henry embarks on a lecture tour
Over the course of the next year, Henry conducts a short lecture series to pay for his trip to America. The circuit will bring him across the country, to the Midwest and California.

1904:American Academy of Arts and Letters
Henry and William are elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. William declines the ceremonial offer, saying, "I am the more encouraged in this course by the fact that my younger and shallower and vainer brother is already in the Academy."

1907:The American Scene
Henry compiles a memoir of his recollections of his recent trip to the States in The American Scene.

1907:James has a hit
Although James's play The High Bid, is popular, its run is short. The star of the play, Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson, is enjoying "the success of his lifetime" in a Jerome K. Jerome play being performed concurrently.

1908:The "New York Edition" flops
The "New York Edition" of The Novels and Tales of Henry James is published in America with a series of new introductions by the author. Initial royalties amount to $211.

1912:Oxford honors James
James receives an honorary degree in literature from Oxford University.

1913:A Small Boy and Others
Henry publishes one part of his autobiography, A Small Boy and Others. During the writing of it, James becomes terribly ill, and is unable to work well for months.

1914:Notes of a Son and Brother
Henry publishes another installment of his autobiography, Notes of a Son and Brother. This installment focuses largely on the impact of the Civil War on his family.

1917:The Middle Years
The Middle Years, the unfinished third volume of James's autobiography, is published posthumously, as are two unfinished novels: The Ivory Tower and The Sense of the Past. Sense becomes a successful stage adaptation as Berkeley Square in the late 1920s.

1918:Within the Rim
A collection of James's essays about the war are published posthumously in Within the Rim.


World events

1844:The telegraph
On May 11, Samuel F.B. Morse sends the first long-distance telegraph message from Supreme Court chambers in Washington, D.C., to Baltimore, ushering in a new era in communication.

1848:U.S. Woman's Rights Convention
Organized by Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the convention meets in Seneca Falls, N.Y., and issues the "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions," declaring that "all men and women are created equal."

Communist Manifesto
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels publish the "Manifesto of the Communist Party." In their manifesto, they lay out the platform that will be embraced by the European socialist and communist parties of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Revolts throughout Europe
France's King Louis-Phillipe abdicates, and a radical provincial government is established. A moderate republican Constitution is instituted after the Paris mob's defeat during the bloody "June Days" uprising. In December, Louis Napoléon Bonaparte, Napoléon I's nephew, is elected President.

1849:California Gold Rush
Gold is discovered in California, sparking the arrival of a flood of immigrants, both foreign and American.

1852:Emperor Napoléon III
Two weeks after becoming president, Louis Napoléon proclaims himself Emperor Napoléon III, and the reign of the Second Empire begins. In 1853 he marries Princess Eugenié of Spain. The opulent Second Empire lasts until the Sédans's defeat in September 1870.

1853:Crimean War
The Crimean War (1853-1856) is fought between Russia and the allied forces of Great Britain, France, the Ottoman Empire, and Sardinia. Russia's defeat by its more technologically advanced opponents inspires Russian leaders to seek modernization.

1854:Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
The Missouri Compromise, which restricted the expansion of slavery, is swept aside. Under the Act, the federal government allows settlers of new territories to decide, by popular vote, whether their new state will be "free" or "slave."

1857:Madame Bovary
Gustave Flaubert steams up the literary world with the publication of his French realist novel Madame Bovary. Its depiction of adultery is considered an affront to decency and morality for which Flaubert is prosecuted but not convicted.

The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly is founded by poet Oliver Wendell Holmes. At this point, there aren't many American literary magazines. The North American Review is the oldest, founded in 1815.

1858:First transatlantic telegraph
On August 18, almost 10 years after the first failed attempt to connect the United States and France via telegraph, the first transatlantic telegraph message is sent between Ireland and America.

1859:Origin of the Species
British naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-1882) publishes On the Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, explaining his theory of evolutionary selection.

The raid on Harpers Ferry
Abolitionist John Brown stages a raid on the armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia in October. The following month, Brown is found guilty of murder, treason, and inciting slave insurrection, and he is sentenced to death. He will hang in December.

1860:Abraham Lincoln inaugurated
Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President of the United States. In response to the divisive issue of slavery, he promises to hold together the Union at all costs. South Carolina secedes from the Union in protest.

1861:Outbreak of U.S. Civil War
On April 12, the first shot is fired in the Civil War at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, which falls to the Confederate Army in April.

Emancipation of Russian serfs
Alexander II, Emperor of Russia, abolishes serfdom following the Crimean War. When millions of Russians gain personal freedom, the drastic shift in society leads the rickety foundations of Russia's landowning class to collapse. Alexander will be assassinated in 1881.

1862:Bismarck becomes Prussian Prime Minister
Otto von Bismarck becomes "minister-president" of Germany; his title will be later changed to Chancellor. As architect of the German Empire, he is the founder of the Second German Reich.

1863:Emancipation Proclamation
Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation, pledging the Union to the abolition of slavery. Effective on the first day of the new year, Lincoln declares all slaves held in confederate territories free.

1864:Abraham Lincoln reelected
With Union Army triumphs signaling an end in sight to the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln is reelected, defeating the Democratic candidate, General George B. McClellan.

Emperor Maximilian
The French invade Mexico and set up Austrian archduke Maximilian as emperor of Mexico. Three years later, the French forces will withdraw, and Maximilian will be executed by rebels.

1865:Appomattox
On April 9, the Confederate States of America formally surrenders to the Union at Appomattox, Virginia. It will be almost two months before the last confederate army surrenders in Shreveport, Louisiana, thus bringing the war to a close.

The 13th Amendment
The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery.

1866:Black Friday
Plummeting gold prices in the United States precipitate a securities market panic on the London Stock Exchange.

1868:Disraeli becomes prime minister
Novelist and imperialist Benjamin Disraeli becomes Prime Minister of England for the first of two terms. Disraeli's first term lasts less than a year; the second spans six years, from 1874-1880. He is beloved by Queen Victoria.

1869:Transcontinental railroad
The first transcontinental railroad across the United States is completed this year. By 1894, there will be four more. These railroads, however, do not stretch from East to West Coast, but west from the Missouri River.

French parliament
After years of empire, the parliamentary system is reintroduced in France.

1870:Franco-Prussian War
To regain diplomatic and military prestige, France declares war on Prussia but is defeated. In 1871, Prussia's King William I is proclaimed German emperor at Versailles. Under the peace agreement, France must cede Alsace-Lorraine and pay extensive reparations to Germany.

1871:Siege of Paris
Revolting against France and Germany's "dishonorable" peace, Parisians seize their city and create the Commune of Paris, a municipal government inspired by the International Workingmen's Association. Adolphe Thiers defeats the uprising and becomes president of the Third French Republic.

1873:Andrew Carnegie
Despite a nationwide economic depression, Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) takes control of the U.S. steel industry.

1875:The Constitution of the Third Republic
The French assembly adopts a series of fundamental laws, which, taken collectively, come to be known as the Constitution of the Third Republic. The National Assembly then dissolves itself, ending the provisional phase of the Third Republic.

1876:The telephone
Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone.

1877:Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated
Democrat Samuel Tilden narrowly defeats Republican Hayes in the popular vote, but both candidates claim electoral victory. The Electoral Commission of 1877 is formed to settle the conflict. Hayes wins, reportedly by promising Southern Democrats to withdraw remaining Union troops.

1882:Triple Alliance
The Triple Alliance is formed when the secret Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary (1879) is joined by Italy in 1882. Serbia also joins in 1882, followed by Romania in 1883. This is one of the basic European alignments in the period prior to World War I.

1894:The Dreyfus Affair
A victim of French anti-Semitism, Jewish Captain Alfred Dreyfus receives a life sentence after being falsely accused of spying for Germany. Though the evidence against him is proven a forgery, a second trial upholds his conviction. He is exonerated in 1906.

1898:"J'accuse!"
Émile Zola denounces the Army cover-up of the Dreyfus affair in the open letter "J'accuse!" Sentenced to imprisonment and removed from the roll of the Legion of Honor, he escapes to England, where he remains until being granted amnesty.

1900:Lenin emigrates
V.I. Lenin emigrates to Switzerland and begins a five-year exile from Russia.

Kaiser Wilhelm II
German Kaiser Wilhelm II (Queen Victoria's grandson), the emperor of Germany and king of Prussia from 1888 until the end of World War I in 1918, makes plans to build up the German navy so that "the German Empire may also be in a position to win the place it has not yet attained."

Sister Carrie
Theodore Dreiser's realistic novel Sister Carrie is taken out of circulation after selling 456 copies. Dreiser's depiction of a young girl's sexual prowess -- and power -- is considered too titillating.

1901:Queen Victoria dies
On January 22, Queen Victoria dies, ending the longest reign (64 years) in the history of the British monarchy. Her reign is marked by a rigid moral code and the expansion of the British empire.

1902:Order of Merit
King Edward VII establishes the Order of Merit, the highest personal award conferred on individuals for distinction in the arts, learning, and sciences. As of 2000, there have been only 24 recipients, one of whom, in 1916, is Henry James.

1904:Anglo-French Entente Cordiale
The Anglo-French Entente Cordiale of 1904 is signed. The accord resolves all outstanding colonial conflicts between England and France, but stops short of military alliance.

1905:Revolution in Russia
Following an uprising, Czar Nicholas II attempts to convert Russia's autocracy to a constitutional monarchy. His extensive reforms include the creation of the Duma, which fosters the development of legal political activity and parties.

1907:Kipling wins Nobel Prize
Rudyard Kipling becomes the first English author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

1909:Freud visits America
In a lecture series of the United States, Sigmund Freud introduces the concept of psychoanalysis to large segments of the American population. Together with associate Carl Jung, he meets with William James.

1910:Union of South Africa established
Britain establishes the Union of South Africa after winning the South African War (Boer War, 1899-1902). South Africa will gain independence from Britain in 1931and reinstate the suppression of non-whites, which culminates in apartheid.

1913:Woodrow Wilson inaugurated
Democrat Woodrow Wilson becomes the 28th president of the United States.

1914:Panama Canal
After taking over the project from France some three decades earlier, America completes construction of the Panama Canal. President Theodore Roosevelt sees the Canal as a necessity for naval power and security, not for commerce, as the French had.

Archduke Francis Ferdinand assassinated
In Sarajevo, on June 28, Austrian archduke Ferdinand is assassinated. His murder sparks the beginning of war in Europe.

1917:America enters the war
Unable to maintain a position of neutrality, America enters the "Great War" on the side of the Allies (France, Britain, and Russia). The war ends with Germany's surrender on November 11, 1918. The casualty rate is estimated at 10 million.

The slaying of the czar
In an already-bloody year, the former czar Nicholas II and his family are slain by revolutionaries.

1920:The League of Nations
The League of Nations forms in Paris following the end of the war. The United States votes against joining the organization.

19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment is passed, giving U.S. women the right to vote.




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