William James


William James was an Irish-born American psychologist and philosopher and brother of author Henry James. William James is considered by many to be the "Father of American Psychology." He is known for creating the philosophic school of pragmatism and also for being one of the pioneers of the psychological theory of functionalism. W. James was also the first educator to offer a psychology course at the university level.


Growing up, W. James was educated by a variety of tutors in New York and Europe, which promoted his learning of French and German. 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. This encouraged him to travel and stay in Europe many times during his adult life.


He completed most of his education and teaching at Harvard University in Massachusetts in the United States, teaching the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, George Santayana, W. E. B. Du Bois, and more. At a later point in his teaching career at Harvard, he took a year of from teaching and moved to Florence with his family in order to try to bestow the same opportunities and wisdom gained from traveling and experiencing European culture to his children that his father granted him during his youth. As previously mentioned, he was the brother of novelist Henry James, who was a good friend of Vernon Lee before William himself met her.