Born in New York City, into a family that in regard to “its literary and intellectual accomplishments” is “perhaps the most remarkable” the United States has ever known (Lewis, i), Henry James was named for his father, an eccentric Swedenborgian philosopher and intellectual gadabout, friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson and many other philosphers, writers, and journalists of his time. (Accordingly, James published as “Henry James, Jr.” until his father's death in 1882.) His older brother, William (1842-1910), would become America's bestknown philosopher, a professor at Harvard, and author of The Principles of Psychology (1890), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), and Pragmatism (1907). Two other sons, Garth Wilkinson and Robertson, and a daughter, Alice, composed the lively family unit.
After receiving a sizeable inheritance, the elder Henry declared himself “leisured for life!” and, eschewing a conventional career, repeatedly took his young family for long stays in Europe—the first time in 1843—where they traveled through England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy and were given an eclectic education in London, Paris, and Geneva. Returning to the United States in 1859, the James family lived in Newport, Rhode Island, during the Civil War, in which both younger sons served as officers with black regiments. Due to what he describes in his autobiographical Notes of a Son and Brother (1914) as an “obscure” back injury, Henry, Jr., spent the war years as a civilian, establishing himself as a writer and literary journalist. From the late 1860s on he traveled frequently to Europe; by 1875 he was living abroad, first in Paris and then in London, with frequent trips to France and Italy. He was in the United States in January 1881 (when his mother died) and again the following December, arriving just after his father's death. He returned to London in August 1882, where he moved easily in London's stimulating literary and intellectual society. He did