Henry James: What Maisie Knew

(2088 words)
  • Pat Righelato (University of Reading)

What Maisie Knew is one of James's most carefully planned novels. In 1892, at a dinner party, he heard about an unusual divorce settlement in which the child was not, as was customary, assigned to one parent, but was to alternate between them. James set down the anecdote in his notebook, detailing that both parents married again, bringing step-parents into the equation. He pondered further on the idea for a short story on this topic from time to time in his notebooks, deciding the child should be a girl. By December 1895 he was elaborating the symmetries for a story of ten thousand words. He finally began to write what was to become a novel of ninety thousand words in 1896. What Maisie Knew first appeared in serial …

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Citation:
Righelato, Pat. "What Maisie Knew". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 May 2006
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8734, accessed 02 October 2014.]