Real Henry James, The [botw]

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01Europe V America2016022920160301 (R4)

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 1: Europe versus America.

Was James English or American? The British tend to regard him as American, the Americans as British. Although born in America, James's wealthy, eccentric father moved the family around constantly - to France, England, Switzerland, Boston - so the young James never felt settled in America. In fact, Henry James lived more of his life in his adopted country of England than in his native America. At the end of his life, he took British nationality in 1915 as a gesture of solidarity and as a protest against American neutrality in the First World War. But in some ways he always remained an outsider, and felt an outsider in both cultures.

James' writing gives us an insight into both societies. After he'd settled in London he composed a negative catalogue about his homeland - the tone hovers somewhere between real critique and self-mockery of the Englishman's snobbery about Americans.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Although born in America, James lived more of his life in his adopted country of England.

02Dining Out In English Society2016030120160302 (R4)

Henry James's entry into English society, as revealed by entertaining letters.

02Dining Out in English Society20160301

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 2: Dining Out in English Society

Entertaining glimpses of English society through the sharp eyes of an American observer. James was an inveterate diner-out, and once managed 107 dinners in a season. He left sharp observations of the people he met at dinner, including the great writers of the day:

"The chattering and self-complacent Robert Browning, who I am sorry to say, does not make on me a purely agreeable impression. His transparent eagerness to hold the monopoly of the conversation and a sort of shrill interruptingness which distinguishes him have in them a kind of vulgarity."

For James, dining-out wasn't just a chance to meet celebrities - it gave him stories which became the plots in his novels. At one dinner, for instance, he heard the story of a family lawsuit which became The Spoils of Poynton. We hear the excited letter outlining the plot and characters for the novel which have struck him at the dinner table.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

02Dining Out in English Society20160301

03Modern Women2016030220160303 (R4)

Henry James on feminism, female suffrage, modern women.

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 3: Modern Women

Henry James was a lifelong bachelor, but many of his closest friendships were with women. And his novels are known for his sensitive and sympathetic treatment of women's experience - very often as his central characters.

His preoccupation with the situation of women, and with contemporary debates about women's role in society, emerges early in his career. In 1868, the 25-year-old James reviewed a book called Modern Women and What Is Said of Them - a British collection of anti-feminist articles. The book roused James to an angry attack on the marriage market which women found themselves in, and a defence of the position of women in a patriarchal society. We hear extracts from that impassioned review.

We hear too the moving letter which James wrote home to his mother after the death of his closest female friend, his cousin Minnie Temple. Minnie inspired Isabel Archer, his heroine in The Portrait of a Lady, and his heroine Millie Theale in The Wings of the Dove would resemble her even more closely.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

04Encounters with Famous People20160303

04Encounters with Famous People2016030320160304 (R4)

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 4: Encounters with Famous People

Henry James ended his career in London in the early twentieth century as a figure of great dignity, known to his admirers as 'the Master'. But as a shy child, and a bashful young man, early in his career he had met some of the literary giants of the Victorian age. James's father Henry James Senior was a well-known and well-connected intellectual figure - though very eccentric - so all sorts of eminent people passed through the house. Towards the end of his life, James still remembers being overwhelmed by embarrassment and self-consciousness during an encounter with the most famous novelist of the day - the author of Vanity Fair.

"Still present to me is the voice proceeding from my father's library, in which some glimpse of me hovering, at an opening of the door, prompted him to the formidable words, 'Come here, little boy, and show me your extraordinary jacket!'"

We hear what happened next in that meeting with Thackeray - and of meetings with Dickens, Tennyson, and George Eliot.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

04Encounters with Famous People2016030320160304 (R4)

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 4: Encounters with Famous People

Henry James ended his career in London in the early twentieth century as a figure of great dignity, known to his admirers as 'the Master'. But as a shy child, and a bashful young man, early in his career he had met some of the literary giants of the Victorian age. James's father Henry James Senior was a well-known and well-connected intellectual figure - though very eccentric - so all sorts of eminent people passed through the house. Towards the end of his life, James still remembers being overwhelmed by embarrassment and self-consciousness during an encounter with the most famous novelist of the day - the author of Vanity Fair.

"Still present to me is the voice proceeding from my father's library, in which some glimpse of me hovering, at an opening of the door, prompted him to the formidable words, 'Come here, little boy, and show me your extraordinary jacket!'"

We hear what happened next in that meeting with Thackeray - and of meetings with Dickens, Tennyson, and George Eliot.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

04Encounters With Famous People2016030320160304 (R4)

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 4: Encounters with Famous People

Henry James ended his career in London in the early twentieth century as a figure of great dignity, known to his admirers as 'the Master'. But as a shy child, and a bashful young man, early in his career he had met some of the literary giants of the Victorian age. James's father Henry James Senior was a well-known and well-connected intellectual figure - though very eccentric - so all sorts of eminent people passed through the house. Towards the end of his life, James still remembers being overwhelmed by embarrassment and self-consciousness during an encounter with the most famous novelist of the day - the author of Vanity Fair.

"Still present to me is the voice proceeding from my father's library, in which some glimpse of me hovering, at an opening of the door, prompted him to the formidable words, 'Come here, little boy, and show me your extraordinary jacket!'"

We hear what happened next in that meeting with Thackeray - and of meetings with Dickens, Tennyson, and George Eliot.

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.

Encounters with Dickens, Tennyson and Thackeray recounted by James in letters and memoirs.

05Childhood And Family2016030420160305 (R4)

Henry James reflects on his extraordinary childhood and family in old age.

Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.

Episode 5: Childhood and Family

It may seem paradoxical to end a series on Henry James by going back to his childhood - but that's what James himself did in old age. As he approached 70, James began to look back over his life and career - by then he was the only one of five siblings to survive - and found that his early memories and associations multiplied with an almost uncontrollable vividness.

We hear memories of how he roamed free as a young boy on the streets of New York, and of his father, an eccentric religious philosopher who detested 'prigs'.

We hear too a moving and intimate account of a visit James paid towards the end of his life to the family grave-plot near Harvard - where his parents, his sister Alice, and Wilky, one of his brothers, were buried. James wrote about this only in his private notebooks, which speaks revealingly about the importance of family for him. The programme ends with a passage about the quest for religious faith, and with James's great motto in life, "e kind, be kind, be kind..."

The anthology has been selected by Professor Philip Horne of University College London, who is founding General Editor of a major scholarly edition of James's fiction and has re-transcribed the notebooks for an authoritative new edition.

Reader: Henry Goodman

With introductions by Olivia Williams

Producer: Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media production for BBC Radio 4.