Henry James and H.G. Wells: A Record of Their Friendship, Their Debate on the Art of Fiction, and Their Quarrel

Henry James and H.G. Wells: A Record of Their Friendship, Their Debate on the Art of Fiction, and Their Quarrel

Henry James and H.G. Wells: A Record of Their Friendship, Their Debate on the Art of Fiction, and Their Quarrel

Henry James and H.G. Wells: A Record of Their Friendship, Their Debate on the Art of Fiction, and Their Quarrel

Excerpt

Henry James and H. G. Wells appear to have met in 1898. Three years earlier Wells had witnessed James's public discomfiture at the first night of Guy Domville, when the gallery booed the American novelist as he came out to take a bow before a fashionable London audience. The night had been doubly memorable for Wells--it was the night he met Bernard Shaw. Both were present as drama critics, and they walked away from the theatre together at the evening's end.

In 1898 James was fifty-five, Wells thirty-two. The senior writer had recently forsaken London, where he had lived for two decades, and installed himself in Lamb House, Rye, in Sussex, the permanent home he had always wanted, a rural retreat from the pressures of the British capital. He had in recent years gone through a series of personal crises: his plays had failed, his books were not selling, critics praised him but did not understand him, he felt unwanted and his old age seemed to stretch before him, blank and dreary. Yet even at this moment he had written "The Turn of the Screw", which was to give him a momentary "lift," and presently he was to find, in his Rye retreat, leisure for the creation of the three major novels which he wrote after the turn of the . . .

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