Henry James. Photograph by Alice Boughton

Henry James (1843-1916)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the American-born, London-based novelist, short-story writer, literary critic, and autobiographer Henry James, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources

Main Page | Short Stories of Henry James | 19th-Century Novelists | About LiteraryHistory.com


"Henry James." An introduction to Henry James, by Alfred Habegger, from the educational publisher Heath Anthology of American Literature.

Henry James on youtube. An engaging and thought-provoking talk on James's novel Portrait of a Lady, by Professor Robert B. Pippin, author of Henry James and Modern Moral Life, 1 hour.

"Social Realism: Henry James." A short introduction to Henry James, articles on other American authors in the social realism tradition, and a guide for teachers. American Passages, a project from Annenberg Learner.

Campbell, Kate. "Henry James." A substantial introduction to Henry James. Literary Encyclopedia 25 June 2002 [subscription service].

"Washington Square." National Endowment for the Arts "Big Read," a web site on Henry James and Washington Square, contains a brief historical timeline and a brief biography of James, and provides suggestions for teaching James.

"A Mistake to Misunderstand." An 1887 review of Henry James's The Princess Casamassima from the British publication The Guardian is brief and snippy: "Unfortunately for Mr James, his great predecessors confined themselves almost entirely to their own people, whom they understood, and Mr James has tried English people, whom he does not understand."


Lamb House, in Rye, Sussex, England." James's country house, where he wrote the novels of his late period, open to visitors.

"Silent Master." John Updike's trenchant comments on Colm Toíbín's fictional biography of Henry James, The Master. The fictional biography seems characteristically a postmodernist form, Updike reflects, when "truth became thoroughly relative, and image seized priority over fact, and the historical past became an attic full of potentially entertaining trinkets." New Yorker 28 June 2004.

O'Donnell, Heather. "Henry's James." On James's struggle to preserve a secure sense of his private identity and of himself as an American during his visit to the United States in 1904, when he was 60 years old, in the midst of wide-ranging discussion of him in the American press. MLA paper, 2002. Henry James Society.

Interview with Leon Edel, the great biographer of Henry James, from the Paris Review, 1985. A winning and thoroughly un-academic Edel talks about how he became a biographer of Henry James.

Wagenknecht, Edward. "The Mark Twain Papers and Henry James:The Treacherous Years." A leading scholar of Leon Edel's generation reviews the fourth of Edel's five-volume biography of James. Wagenknecht has high praise for Edel's writing and research, but warns against his heavy-handed and unsupported Freudian interpretations of James's fiction, saying of Edel "you can always trust him when he is dealing with his facts, but it is safer to run when he begins to ride a theory." Studies in the Novel 2, 1 (Spring 1970) pp 88-98 [free at jstor].

Early Works

Nelson, Michelle D. "Watch and Ward: James's Fantasy of Omnipotence." On James's first novel. Style 29, 3 (Fall 1995) [jstor].

Ward, J. A. "The Double Structure of Watch and Ward." J.A. Ward contends that the reason Watch and Ward [1871] was a failure was in part because its characters were early on presented as a fairly complex mixture of good and evil, but saddled with a sentimental and formulaic plot. Texas Studies in Literature and Language 4, 4 (Winter 1963) pp 613-24 [jstor].

Gunter, Susan. "The American and 'Le Roman policier.'" On the genre of The American [1877] and whether it can be considered a detective novel. Henry James Society.

Daisy Miller [1879]

Lund, Michael. "Henry James's Two-Part Magazine Stories and Daisy Miller." In The Henry James Review 19, 2 (Spring 1998) pp 126-38 [preview only, muse].

Ohmann, Carol. "Daisy Miller: A Study of Changing Intentions." American Literature 36, 1 (March 1964) pp 1-11 [jstor].

Randall, John H., III. "The Genteel Reader and Daisy Miller." In American Quarterly 17, 3 (Autumn 1965) pp 568-81 [jstor].

Scheiber, Andrew J. "Embedded Narratives of Science and Culture in James's Daisy Miller." Henry James's use of scientific ideas, such as the theory of evolution, in Daisy Miller. In College Literature 21, 2 (June 1994) pp 75-88 [jstor].

Washington Square [1880]

Bell, Ian F.A. "'This Exchange of Epigrams': Commodity and Style in Washington Square." Prof. Ian F.A. Bell's thesis is that Washington Square can be read as a critique of a particular historical moment in the development of the bourgeois temperament. Journal of American Studies 19, 1 (April 1985) pp 49-68 [jstor].

Bell, Millicent. "Style as Subject Washington Square." Prof. Millicent Bell notes that in Washington Square Henry James examines both the literary styles and life-attitudes of several approaches: the realist-historian, the ironist, the melodramist, and the romantic fabulist. Sewanee Review 83, 1 (Winter 1975) [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Cavalier, Philip Acree. "Henry James's Mathematics." On mathematical ideas in two of James's early novels, The American and Washington Square. MMLA 2002. Henry James Society.

Long, Robert Emmet. "James's Washington Square: The Hawthorne Relation Washington Square." Despite James's admiration of Balzac, and formal similarities of Washington Square with Eugénie Grandet, Long argues that James placed himself in a different novelistic tradition, that of George Eliot and Nathaniel Hawthorne, who "care for moral questions." The New England Quarterly 46, 4 (Dec. 1973) pp 573-90 [jstor].

Ozick, Cynthia. "James as Jilter: Absenteeism in Washington Square." Novelist Cynthia Ozick believes that what principally drew James to the plot of Washington Square was the jilting, and that James himself was figuratively a "jilter," of America among other things. The American Scholar 71, 4 (Autumn 2002) pp 53-59 [jstor].

The Portrait of a Lady [1881]

Andres, Sophia. "Narrative Instability in The Portrait of a Lady: Isabel on the Edge of the Social." Explores the conflict in the novel between a stable, integrated past and an uncertain, tumultuous present. Journal of Narrative Technique 24, 1 (1994) pp 43-54 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Bazzanella, Dominic J. "The Conclusion to The Portrait of a Lady Re-examined." American Literature 41, 4 (March 1969) pp 55-63 [jstor preview or purchase].

Donahue, Peter. "Collecting as Ethos and Technique in The Portrait of a Lady." Studies in American Fiction 25, 1 (1997) pp 41-56 [sub ser, questia].

Fogel, Daniel Mark, ed. The Henry James Review 7, 2/3 (Winter/Spring 1986). The entire issue is devoted to The Portrait of a Lady [previews only, muse].

Friend, Joseph H. "The Structure of The Portrait of a Lady." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 20, 1 (June 1965) pp 85-95 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Gilmore, Michael T. "The Commodity World of The Portrait of a Lady." The New England Quarterly 59, 1 (March 1986) pp 51-74 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Hadella, Paul M. "Rewriting Misogyny: The Portrait of a Lady and the Popular Fiction Debate." American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 26, 3 (Spring 1994) pp 1-11 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Hendricks, Susan E. "Henry James as Adapter: The Portrait of a Lady and Can You Forgive Her" [Anthony Trollope novel as source]. Rocky Mountain Review of Language and Literature 38, 1/2 (1984) pp 35-43 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Hodges, Laura F. "Recognizing 'false notes': Musical Rhetoric in The Portrait of a Lady." Mosaic: a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 32, 4 (Dec. 1999) pp 1-17 [sub ser, questia].

Izzo, Donatella. "Setting a Free Woman Free: The Portrait(s) of a Lady." The Americanist: Warsaw Journal for the Study of the United States 22 (no date) pp 101-22. This entire edition of The Americanist is devoted to articles on Henry James.

Johnson, Patricia E. "The Gendered Politics of the Gaze: Henry James and George Eliot" [The Portrait of a Lady and Eliot's Middlemarch]. Mosaic: a Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature 30, 1 (1997) pp 39-54 [sub ser, questia].

Laird, J.T. "Cracks in Precious Objects: Aestheticism and Humanity in The Portrait of a Lady." The "conflict of the aesthetic and the moral in a highly civilized society," as a theme in James's novels. American Literature 52, 4 (Jan. 1981) pp 643-48 [jstor preview or purchase].

Niemtzow, Annette. "Marriage and the New Woman in The Portrait of a Lady." American Literature 47, 3 (Nov. 1975) pp 377-95 [jstor preview or purchase].

Porte, Joel. New Essays on The Portrait of a Lady" (Cambridge UP 1990). A collection of critical articles by authorities on Henry James, includes Donatella Izzo's "The Portrait of a Lady and Modern Narrative," William Veeder's "The Portrait of a Lack," Beth Sharon Ash's "Frail Vessels and Vast Designs: A Psychoanalytic Portrait of Isabel Archer," Alfred Habegger's "The Fatherless Heroine and the Filial Son: Deep Background for The Portrait of a Lady" [ebook, chapter previews available].

The Bostonians [1886]

Bertonneau, Thomas F. "Like Hypatia before the Mob: Desire, Resentment, and Sacrifice in The Bostonians." Anthropoetics 1, 1 (1995).

Moldstad, Mary Frew. "Elizabeth Peabody Revisited." On Henry James's friendship with Elizabeth Peabody, who is thought to be the source for his character Miss Birdseye. The Henry James Review 9, 3 (Fall 1988) pp 209-11 [muse, preview].

Scudder, Horace Elisha. "The Bostonians, by Henry James." A classic review from 1886, from the Atlantic Monthly.

Shaheen, Aaron. "'The Social Dusk of that Mysterious Democracy': Race, Sexology, and the New Woman in Henry James's The Bostonians." American Transcendental Quarterly 19, 4 (Dec. 2005) [questia sub ser, substantial preview].

The Princess Casamassima [1886]

Scanlan, Margaret. "'Terrorism and the Realistic Novel: Henry James and The Princess Casamassima." Scanlan argues that "The Princess Casamassima is an exemplary instance of realistic fiction that explores both the power of nineteenth-century ideology and the possibility of resisting it." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34, 3(Fall 1992) pp 380-402.


"The Middle Years" [1893]

"Introduction to 'The Middle Years.'" James wrote "The Middle Years" in 1893, the year he turned 50. For the previous ten years he had been casting around for a new approach. He had tried social realism . . .

Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Madness of Art: Henry James's 'The Middle Years.'" A wonderful analysis of this story, by another great writer of fiction. New Literary History 27, 2 (Spring 1996) pp 259-62 [free at jstor].

Westbrook, Perry D. "The Supersubtle Fry." Perry Westbrook contends that the story is not about Dencombe's perfectionism, but a satire on the perfectionist's egotism. Such a reading changes one's view of James himself as a self-pitying, depressed author to "a man big enough to make fun of his own foibles as they are projected onto Dencombe." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 8, 2 (Sept. 1953) pp 134-40 [free at jstor].

"The Figure in the Carpet" [1896]

Wilson, Raymond J. "The Possibility of Realism: 'The Figure in the Carpet' and Hawthorne's Intertext." Wilson contends that Hawthorne's use of image of the figure-in-the carpet in his preface to The Scarlet Letter, along with Henry James's response to it in his tale, is at the heart of the American debate about whether fiction reveals truth about reality, and that James's position is that it does. The Henry James Review 16, 2 (Spring 1995) pp 142-52 [muse, preview].

Salmon, Rachel. "A Marriage of Opposites: Henry James's 'The Figure in the Carpet' and the Problem of Ambiguity." ELH 47, 4 (Winter 1980) pp 788-803 [free at jstor].

LeStourgeon, Diane E.; and Homer Nearing, Jr. "The Swedenborgian Figure in the Carpet: Henry James's Critical Point of View." Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies 7, 4 (Winter 1975) pp 328-41 [free at jstor].

The Spoils of Poynton [1897]

Baym, Nina. "Fleda Vetch and the Plot of The Spoils of Poynton." PMLA 84, 1 (Jan. 1969) [click "Read Online Free," jstor].

Broderick, John C. "Nature, Art, and Imagination in The Spoils of Poynton." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 13, 4 (March 1959) pp 295-312 [click "Read Online Free," jstor].

Faulkner, Carol. "Reconsidering Poynton's Innocent Patriarch." Article focuses on "the situation of the mother deposed by the ugly English custom, turned out of the big house on the son's marriage and relegated." The Henry James Review 15, 2 (Spring 1994) pp 141-51 [preview only, muse].

Greene, Philip L. "Point of View in The Spoils of Poynton." Nineteenth-Century Fiction 21, 4 (March 1967) pp 359-368 [click "Read Online Free," jstor].

Lyons, Richard S. "The Social Vision of The Spoils of Poynton." American Literature 61, 1 (March 1989) pp 59-77 [jstor preview or purchase].

What Maisie Knew [1897]

Armstrong, Paul B. "How Maisie Knows: The Phenomenology of James's Moral Vision." "Nowhere in his canon," says Armstrong, "do James the epistemological novelist and James the moral dramatist combine forces more powerfully than in What Maisie Knew. In Texas Studies in Literature and Language 20, 4 (Winter 1978) pp 517-37 [free at jstor].

Britzolakis, Christina. "Technologies of vision in Henry James's What Maisie Knew." Novel: A Forum on Fiction 34, 3 (Summer 2001) [preview or purchase at jstor].

Derail-Imbert, Agnès. "French as the Fantasmal Idiom of Truth in What Maisie Knew." In Henry James's Europe. Open Book Publishers, 2011 [free online].

Habegger, Alfred. "Reciprocity and the Market Place in The Wings of the Dove and What Maisie Knew." On the moral sense in James's fiction. Nineteenth-Century Fiction 25, 4 (March 1971) pp 455-73 [free at jstor].

Heller, Lee E. "The Paradox of the Individual Triumph: Instrumentality and the Family in What Maisie Knew." In South Atlantic Review 53, 4 (Nov. 1988) pp 77-85 [free at jstor].

Marotta, Kenny. "What Maisie Knew: The Question of Our Speech." ELH 46, 3 (Autumn 1979) pp 495-508 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Nance, William L. "What Maisie Knew: The Myth of the Artist." Studies in the Novel 8, 1 (Spring 1976) [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Smit, David. "The Wishful Fantasy of What Maisie Knew." In American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 29, 3 (Spring 1997) pp 1-14 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Snyder, John. "James's Girl Huck: What Maisie Knew." Contends that Maisie is the closest thing to a girl version of Huck Finn as exists in American literature [Mark Twain Adventures of Huckleberry Finn]. In American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 11, 1 (Spring 1978) [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Teahan, Sheila. "What Maisie Knew and the improper third person." Studies in American Fiction 1993 [questia sub ser, substantial preview].

Westover, Jeff. "Handing Over Power in James's What Maisie Knew." In Style 28, 2 (Summer 1994) [questia sub ser, substantial preview].

Wolk, Merla. "Narration and Nurture in What Maisie Knew." In The Henry James Review 4, 3 (Spring 1983) pp 196-206 [preview, muse].

Worden, Ward S. "Henry James's What Maisie Knew: A Comparison with the Plans in the Notebooks." In PMLA 53, 4 (June 1953) pp 371-83 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

The Turn of the Screw [1898]

Klein, Marcus. "Convention and Chaos in The Turn of the Screw." Hudson Review 59, 4 (Winter 2007) [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Sawyer, Richard. "'What's your title?' - 'The Turn of the Screw.'" How James directs the reader's expectations of "a ghost story" in his preface to The Turn of the Screw. Studies in Short Fiction, Jan. 1993 [questia sub ser].

Wesley, Marilyn C. "The Remembered Future: Neuro-cognitive Identity in Henry James's The Turn of the Screw." College Literature 2004 [preview or purchase at jstor].

Other Late Novels

Jöttkandt, Sigi. "Hysteria, Metaphor and the Ethics of Desire in The Wings of the Dove." [The Wings of the Dove 1902]. On social and ethical approaches to The Wings of the Dove. Henry James Society.

Miyabe, Kyoko. "Milly Theale and the Two Paintings in The Wings of the Dove." Henry James Society.

Simon, Linda. "The Empowered Physician: William Wilberforce Baldwin and 19th Century Medical Therapeutics." On Sir Luke, the physician in The Wings of the Dove, and his real life model. Henry James Society.

Hadley, Tessa Jane. "French Words in The Ambassadors." [The Ambassadors 1903]. Henry James Society.

Bertonneau, Thomas F. "'The Mysteries of Mimicry': Sublimity and Morality in The Golden Bowl." [The Golden Bowl 1904]. Anthropoetics 4, 2 (1998/1999).

Frølund, Gro. "Seven Golden Bowls Full of the Wrath of God." Power and authority in The Golden Bowl. Henry James Society.

James & Other Authors

De Biasio, Anna. "The Copies Outstrip the 'Originals': Artistic Representations from The Marble Faun to The Wings of the Dove" [and Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Marble Faun]. Henry James Society.

Fay, Eliot G. "Balzac and Henry James." The French Review 24, 4 (1951) pp 325-30 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Gargano, James W. "Henry James on Baudelaire." Discusses James's 1876 article on Baudelaire for the Nation. Modern Language Notes 75, 7 (Nov. 1960) pp 559-61 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Hays, Peter L. "Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises and James's The Ambassadors." Hemingway Review 22 (Spring 2003) [questia sub ser].

Long, Robert Emmet. "James's Washington Square: The Hawthorne Relation". Washington Square is indebted to an anecdote told to James by Fanny Kemble and to Balzac's Eugenie Grandet. Long contends that it was because James's imagination was moral, in the tradition of Hawthorne, that he improves upon Balzac's tale. "While [James] admired Balzac's skill, he placed himself in another tradition - with novelists such as [George] Eliot and Hawthorne - who 'care for moral questions' and 'are haunted by a moral ideal.'" The New England Quarterly 46, 4 (Dec. 1973) pp 573-90 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"].

Mendelssohn, Michele. Henry James, Oscar Wilde and Aesthetic Culture (Edinburgh UP 2007) [entire book at sub ser, questia].

Pollin, Burton R. "Poe and Henry James: A Changing Relationship." Pollin explores the similarity of James's and Poe's aesthetic aims for American literature. The Yearbook of English Studies 3 (1973) pp 232-42 [first page only].

Rowe, John Carlos. Henry Adams and Henry James: The Emergence of a Modern Consciousness" (Cornell UP 1976) [complete book, sub ser, questia].

Salamensky, S.I. "Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and 'Fin-de-Siecle Talk': A Brief Reading." On James's rivalry with Wilde as a conversationalist and dramatist, and James's Wilde-like character, Gabriel Nash, in The Tragic Muse. The Henry James Review 20, 3 (Fall 1999) pp 275-81 [first page only].

Weissman, Judith. "Antique Secrets in Henry James." Antique collecting in Henry James and Oscar Wilde. The Sewanee Review 93, 2 (Spring 1985) pp 196-215 [free at jstor, click "Preview" or "Read Online"]b.

Other Studies of James

Cormier, Harvey. "Jamesian Pragmatism and Jamesian Realism." The connections between the philosophy of William James, realism as a philosophical term, and realism in the fiction of Henry James. The Henry James Review 18, 3 (Fall 1997) pp 288-96 [first page only, muse].

Follini, Tamara L. "Henry James and the Spaces of 'Silent-Speaking Words.'" About James as a writer of letters, and "the epistolary act." ALA 2003. Henry James Society.

Gooder, R. D. "The American Scene, or Paradise Lost." Cambridge Quarterly 37, 1 (2008) [first page of article only].

Hadley, Tessa. Henry James and the Imagination of Pleasure (Cambridge UP 2002) [entire book available, sub ser, questia].

Litvak, Joseph. Caught in the Act: Theatricality in the Nineteenth-Century English Novel (U of California P 1992). Litvak contends that private experience in Henry James "is a rigorous enactment of a public script that constructs normative gender and class identities." James is discussed in the chapters "Making a Scene" and "Actress, Monster, Novelist." [Complete book length study is open access from the California Digital Library.]

Mitchell, Lee. "'Begun to Show for Conscious Things': Objects, Setting and the Construction of Character in Henry James." Henry James Society.

Thomas, Brook. American Literary Realism and the Failed Promise of Contract (U of California P 1997). "Thomas investigates a host of issues at the forefront of public debate in the nineteenth century: race and the meaning of equality, miscegenation, marriage, labor unrest, economic transformation, and changes in notions of human agency and subjectivity." Includes a chapter on James, "Henry James and the Construction of Privacy." [An open access, book length study, from California Digital Library.]

Tredy, Dennis; and Annick Duperray; and Adrian Harding, eds. Henry James's Europe: Heritage and Transfer (Open Book Publishers 2011). Complete book is available open access.

Vaux, Molly. "Vindication against Misreading: The Golden Bowl, The American Scene, and the New York Edition." MLA 2002. Henry James Society.

Wellek, Rene. "Henry James's Literary Theory and Criticism." An influential literary critic evaluates Henry James as a critic and theorist, who notes "There is an extreme divergence of opinions, even among presumably sympathetic critics, about the stature of Henry James as a critic." American Literature 30, 3 (1958) [first page of article only].

James and French Literature

Brooks, Peter. Realist Vision (2005) Yale Univ. Press.

Delbaere-Garant, Jeanne. "Zola." In Henry James: The Vision of France. pp 173-80, Open Edition Books.

Reck, Rima Drell. "Lost in the Museum: James, Zola, and the Urban Spectator." On James's under-acknowledged admiration of Emila Zola. South Central Review 7, 1 (Spring 1990) pp 1-7 [jstor].

Web Sites

The Henry James Society provides full text of selected scholarly papers from American Literature Association and Modern Language Association conferences.

Web site of the Henry James Review, a peer-reviewed and password controlled journal. A sample issue is available.

"The Victorian Governess: A Bibliography." A list of academic books and articles on the governess in Victorian society and Victorian novels. Ed. Cynthia E Huggins, at the Victorian Web [Turn of the Screw, narrator, Miss Jessel].

"The Henry James Scholar's Guide to Web Sites." Professor Emeritus Richard D. Hathaway's web site offers various resources for the student or scholar of Henry James. Contents include html texts for many of James's works (these appear to have more legitimacy than most e-texts of canonical works found on the web) and The Henry James E-Journal, which publishes occasional scholarship on James.

"The Ladder." Information about the tales and novels of Henry James, original printing, reprinting, texts, and variants, from James enthusiast Adrian Dover.

Issues from the Atlantic Monthly magazine from 1857-1901 can be searched at this site provided by Cornell U. A patient researcher will find articles by and about Henry James, George Eliot, and others.

"Calendar of the Letters of Henry James." The site provides access to a database of all known letters written by Henry James and brief biographical information on the recipients. Univ. of Nebraska Press.

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