Autograph Letter Signed [ALS]

Autograph Letter Signed [ALS]

Description: SIGNED LETTER FROM HENRY JAMES ON HIS BROTHER WILLIAM'S RECENT DEATH In response to Robert Underwood Johnson's request for an obituary of William James (to be published in Johnson's Century Magazine), Henry James, William's younger brother, writes on January 26, 1911: Dear R.U. Johnson, I am obliged to you for your invitation in respect to my Brother but can only reply that it's quite out of the question I should prepare for the Century a snippet of 3000 'popular' words on a subject which, when I do address myself to it I hope to be able to treat seriously and for readers who shall really care to know something about it. I must reserve myself for that [underlined] interesting work wholly, & am yours very truly [signed] Henry James. The brothers—Henry, a great novelist and William, the celebrated American psychologist—were known for their mutual admiration. When William died (just a few months before this letter was written), Henry was at his deathbed: "William died at his summer home in Chocorua, New Hampshire [on August 26, 1910] with Henry at his bedside. Only a week earlier Henry had arrived from England with William and his wife, Alice, along with their son Henry (familiarly known as Harry), all of whom, despite William’s own dire heart condition, had crossed the Atlantic in an attempt to nurse Henry back to health. 'He had an inexhaustible authority for me,' [Henry] wrote to H.G. Wells on 10 September 1910, 'and I feel abandoned and afraid, even as a lost child.' Henry made good on his words to Underwood to write something more substantial on William for it has often been assumed that the death of William was the strongest incentive for Henry's autobiographical work, A Small Boy, and in his immensely useful compilation, A Henry James Encyclopedia, Robert Gale maintains that William is 'the hero of James’s autobiography, especially its earlier parts.' James had himself indicated as much when he first discussed a 'family book' with William’s heirs during the months, stretching to nearly a year, when he stayed with them at their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was in the unaccustomed role of head of the family. In a letter to William's widow, he assured her that it was to be 'a book of recollections about the James family,' and on his return to London he wrote to his nephew Harry of 'the yearning effort really to get more surely and swiftly now, up to my neck into the book about WJ and the rest of us . . . almost a brotherly autobiography, a filial autobiography'" (Richard Poirier, in London Review of Books). New York: January 26, 1911. 2 1/4 pages on black engraved black bordered mourning stationery, 4 1/2 x 7 inches. Light crease where folded. In very good condition.
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