Henry James: The Private Life

(1731 words)
  • Neil Chilton (University of Bristol)

Henry James wrote “The Private Life”, a witty meditation on the dichotomy between social performance and private existence, in the summer of 1891, but his initial glimpse of the story may have occurred as early as the winter of 1876–77, when, newly domiciled in London, he first met the poet Robert Browning. “The chattering and self-complacent Robert B. […] does not make on me a purely agreeable impression”, James told his sister Alice in a letter of 8 April 1877, adding that, “strange to say, his talk doesn’t strike me as very good. It is altogether gossip & personality & is not very beautifully worded. But evidently there are 2 Brownings — an esoteric & an exoteric. The former never peeps out in society, & the …

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Chilton, Neil. "The Private Life". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 October 2008
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7462, accessed 29 September 2016.]