Henry James: The Birthplace

(1759 words)

Henry James's short story “The Birthplace” (1903) is an ironic tale about the crassness of literary tourism. However, it also engages closely with artistic issues which James found problematic, especially in his later years: the difficulty of communicating with the public; the perils of literary biography; and the relationship between author and text. Although William Shakespeare is never mentioned in the story, James gives a number of clues that invite the reader to identify the fictional Birthplace with the timber-framed house in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, owned and managed by The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust since 1847. Therefore, this tale can also be read as an exploration of James's attitude towards Shakespeare and t…

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Hutchison, Hazel McNair. "The Birthplace". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 March 2010
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=20112, accessed 27 September 2016.]