Washington Square: Biography

Henry James was born into a wealthy family in New York in 1843. He is renowned as novelist and writer of short stories and was first published in journals such as the Continental Monthly, the North American Review and the Atlantic Monthly. He is the son of Henry James senior, who was a theologian and lecturer, and a younger brother of the philosopher and psychologist William James. The family travelled abroad extensively and as an infant and adolescent James was made familiar with Paris, London and Geneva. From the mid 1870s, he lived first in France and then England and stayed there for over 20 years.The theme of the contrast between American provincialism and European tradition is drawn upon in several of his earlier works including The Portrait of a Lady (1881) and Daisy Miller (1879). Washington Square (1880), which is set in New York and focuses on Dr Sloper and his daughter Catherine, was also published around this time. His later novels are widely regarded as using perceptive psychological insights and this is found to be most evident in The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903) and The Golden Bowl (1904).He died in February 1916 after suffering from a stroke three months earlier. He was a prolific writer and as well as having novels and short stories to his credit, he also wrote plays, criticism and an autobiography.