Henry James left London in 1897 to spend the last two decades of his life in East Sussex where his neighbours included H. G. Wells, Stephen Crane, Ford Madox Ford, Joseph Conrad. In this widely admired study Miranda Seymour aims to cut through 'the mass of evasions . . . and misrepresentations' about their relationships with James. She finds that James was cruelly patronizing to protégé Wells and to Conrad; that he was annoyed by Ford, an incorrigible romancer; that he envied his rich friend Edith Wharton for her wide readership; that he snubbed Cora Taylor, Crane's lover, after she fled America when her railway-conductor husband was found guilty of murder. Seymour, a descendant of James's close friend, the novelist Howard Sturgis, records how James's critiques of fellow writers often amounted to annihilation and she chronicles his infatuations with handsome young men, including sculptor Hendrik Andersen and poet Rupert Brooke. In this erudite and insightful book that draws on letters and published works, Miranda Seymour vividly recreates the uneasy alliance of writers and personalities in the 'Rye Mafia'.
Miranda Seymour, author of the award-winning In My Father's House has written many acclaimed novels and biographies, including lives of Mary Shelley, Robert Graves, Ottoline Morrell and Helle Nice, the Bugatti Queen.
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