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James, Henry - Novels 1896–1899


Henry James

Novels 1896–1899

The Other HouseThe Spoils of PoyntonWhat Maisie KnewThe Awkward Age

 
"These novels sneakily inaugurate modernism in English."
— Atlantic Monthly
 
Overview  |  Note on the Texts  |  Table of Contents
 

This volume collects four novels published by Henry James between 1896 and 1899: The Other House (1896), The Spoils of Poynton (1897), What Maisie Knew (1897), and The Awkward Age (1899). Each novel was first published serially and then appeared in book form almost simultaneously in England and the United States. James later included The Spoils of Poynton, What Maisie Knew, and The Awkward Age in the 1907-09 New York Edition of his collected works, revised to reflect the further evolution of his style.

James first sketched out a scenario for The Other House in a notebook on December 26, 1893. Using the title The Promise, he developed it into a scenario for a three-act play, which he showed to the actor-manager Edward Compton. James eventually decided to use the material in a work of fiction, and on February 26, 1896, agreed with Clement K. Shorter, editor of the Illustrated London News, to write a novel in 13 installments in return for ıı300. (In 1908-09 James wrote a stage version of The Other House, which failed to find a producer; this version was first published in The Complete Plays of Henry James, edited by Leon Edel, in 1949.) James wrote the serial during the spring and summer of 1896, and it appeared in the Illustrated London News from July 4 to September 26, 1896. In July 1896 James completed arrangements for book publication of the novel in both England and America. The Other House was published in two volumes by William Heinemann in London on October 1, 1896. Following two impressions totaling 1,000 copies, a cheaper one-volume printing of 1,500 copies was published by Heinemann on July 17, 1897; in this printing, the spaces between the lines of standing type were reduced. There were no further printings of the novel by Heinemann. The American edition of The Other House was published in New York by the Macmillan Company on or about October 17, 1896, in a printing of 2,150 copies. (Its publication was announced in the New York Journal on October 18 in an item with the caption: "Henry James's New Novel of Immorality and Crime: The Surprising Plunge of the Great Novelist into the Field of Sensational Fiction.") There were no further printings of this edition.

Collation of the serial version against the two first editions shows that James made substantive revisions in the text of the serial version only while preparing the English edition. These revisions consisted of minor changes in wording. For example, "all the plain prettiness" became "all the dull prettiness;" "what on earth would be-come" was changed to "what on earth do you suppose would become;" and "he humorously inquired" was replaced by "he playfully inquired." The English edition also has fewer commas than the serial version and the American edition, although some commas appear in the English edition that are not present in the other versions. James did not make any further revisions to the novel. This volume prints the text of the two-volume 1896 Heinemann edition of The Other House.

James recorded "the subject of a little tale-a little social and psychological picture" in a notebook on December 24, 1893, after being told at dinner the night before a story about a quarrel between a mother and her son over a house and its furnishings. In 1895 he worked on the story, using the title The House Beautiful, and gradually expanded its length until it became a novel. By early 1896 James had changed the title to The Old Things, and it was under this name that it appeared in the Atlantic Monthly between April and October 1896. The novel was then published as The Spoils of Poynton in London by William Heinemann on or about February 6, 1897, in a printing of 2,000 copies. There were no further printings of this edition. An American edition of The Spoils of Poynton was published in Boston by Houghton, Mifflin on February 13, 1897, in a first printing of 1,500 copies; there was a second printing of 500 copies in March 1897.

Collation of The Old Things against the English and American editions of The Spoils of Poynton shows that James made numerous substantive revisions in the text of the serial version that were incorporated into both editions. These revisions consisted of relatively minor changes in wording. For example, "the jollity of London was not merely a diplomatic name for the jollity of Mona Brigstock" was changed to "the jollity of London was not merely the only name his small vocabulary yielded for the jollity of Mona Brigstock," and "the refutation of Mrs. Gereth was easy" became "the refutation of that boast was easy." James also made similar revisions that appeared only in the English edition, such as changing "A second glance, this morning, at the young lady" to "A second glance, a sharp one, at the young lady," and "more subtly discovered" to "more finely discovered," The English edition contains fewer commas than the American edition, which has fewer commas than the serial version. Contractions are closed up in the English edition (i.e., "would n't" becomes "wouldn't"), and English spellings are adopted. James did not revise the novel again until he prepared it for publication in the 1907-09 New York Edition of his collected works. This volume prints the text of the 1897 William Heinemann edition of The Spoils of Poynton.

James described in a notebook on November 12, 1892, a story he had recently heard at dinner regarding a child of divorced parents, and he further developed the idea in an entry dated August 26, 1893.

He outlined the plot of the work in detail on December 22, 1895, and had finished eight chapters by October 26, 1896, when he wrote detailed notes regarding the remainder of the novel. What Maisie Knew appeared serially in The Chap-Book, a Chicago periodical, from January 15 to August 1, 1897, and in abridged form in the New Review, a London magazine, between February and September 1897. The novel was published in book form in London by William Heinemann on or about September 17, 1897, in a first printing of 2,000 copies; there were two subsequent impressions. An American edition was published in Chicago by Herbert S. Stone & Co. in October 1897.

Collation of the Chap-Book version against the English and American editions indicates that James prepared the two editions independently of each other. Some substantive changes from the serial version, such as the replacement of "Mrs. Beale looked surprised" with "Mrs. Beale diffused surprise" appear in both editions. Other alterations, such as changing "her gentle friend" to "her patient friend," were made only in the American edition. More often James made substantive changes that appear only in the English edition; for example, "a tenderness that would never fail her" became "a tenderness that would never give way" and "an effort resisted by the third person" was changed to "an effort deprecated by their comrade." In some cases, James revised a passage in the serial text differently in each of the book editions. For example, "to thrill with response to the picture" became "to thrill with relish to the picture" in the American edition and "to thrill with enjoyment of the picture" in the English edition. The punctuation of the three versions varies, with the English edition having the lightest use of commas. Contractions are closed up in the English edition, and English spellings are adopted. James did not revise What Maisie Knew again until he prepared it for inclusion in the 1907-09 New York Edition. Because the substantive revisions James made for the English edition were equivalent in nature and greater in number than the ones he made for the American edition, this volume prints the text of the 1897 William Heinemann edition of What Maisie Knew.

James recorded his basic idea for The Awkward Age in a notebook on March 4, 1895. He originally described it as "a real little situation for a short tale," but by October 1895 he had decided that it "would fatally exceed that measure." In November 1897 James arranged with Henry Loomis Nelson, editor of Harper's Weekly, for the novel's serialization, and it appeared in that periodical between October 1, 1898, and January 7, 1899. The Awkward Age was published in London by William Heinemann on April 25, 1899, in a printing of 2,000 copies, and in New York by Harper & Brothers on May 12, 1899, in a printing of 1000 copies. Collation of the Harper's Weekly version against the English and American book editions shows that James made many substantive revisions in the text of the serial version that were incorporated in both editions. These revisions consisted of relatively minor verbal changes, such as altering "perhaps a little disappointed one?" to "perhaps a little, after the warnings, let one down?" and "something in Mr. What was his name's face" to "something in his entertainer's face." In many cases substantive changes appeared only in the English edition. For example, "a circumstance, however, that might by no means, on occasion, have failed" was changed to "a circumstance, not withstanding, that would not in every case have failed," and "He is distinctly rich" became "He is distinctly bloated." The punctuation of the three versions varies, with the English edition having the lightest use of commas. English spellings were adopted in the Heinemann edition. James did not revise The Awkward Age again until he prepared it for publication in the 1907-09 New York Edition. This volume prints the text of the 1899 William Heinemann edition of The Awkward Age.

This volume presents the texts of the original printings chosen for inclusion here, but it does not attempt to reproduce nontextual features of their typographic design. The texts are presented without change, except for the correction of typographical errors. Spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are often expressive features and are not altered, even when inconsistent or irregular.

Copyright 1995–2011 Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.
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