Henry James (1843 – 1916) was an American novelist and critic. He is perhaps most well known for his novel, The Portrait of a Lady (1881). He is the brother of psychologist William James. Growing up, H. James was educated by a variety of tutors in New York and Europe. Mainly thanks to his father Henry James Sr. who did not want his children to fall into detrimental American habits and consumerism, education in the James household was largely cosmopolitan. In addition to this, the family took various trips to Europe during his youth. In terms of his literary career, his most well-known novels include those exploring relationships between Americans emigrated abroad and Europeans like The Portrait of a Lady. Later,
he would transition into more experimental works.
H. James and Vernon Lee were well acquainted. He visited her in London in the ‘80s. Later on in life, H. James was one of the men from whom Vernon Lee would “derive intellectual sustenance” (Gunn 98). In fact, Vernon Lee dedicated her first novel, Miss Brown (1884), to him. In a letter to his brother, Henry James describes Vernon in the following way:
“a word of warning about Vernon Lee ... because she is as dangerous and uncanny as she is intelligent which is saying a great deal. Her vigor and sweep are most rare and her talk superior altogether…she is faraway the most able mind in Florence” (Gunn 2)