"I quite agree—in regard to Griffin's ghost, or whatever it was—that its appearing first to the little boy, at so tender an age, adds a particular touch. But it's not the first occurrence of its charming kind that I know to have involved a child. If the child gives the effect another turn of the screw, what do you say to TWO children—?"
"We say, of course," somebody exclaimed, "that they give two turns! Also that we want to hear about them."
I can see Douglas there before the fire, to which he had got up to present his back, looking down at his interlocutor with his hands in his pockets. "Nobody but me, till now, has ever heard. It's quite too horrible." This, naturally, was declared by several voices to give the thing the utmost price, and our friend, with quiet art, prepared his triumph by turning his eyes over the rest of us and going on: "It's beyond everything. Nothing at all that I know touches it."...
Henry James, OM (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American writer who spent most of his writing career in Britain. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character's point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction.
James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting.
In addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays. James alternated between America and Europe for the first twenty years of his life; eventually he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.
HORACE WALPOLE was the youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, the great statesman, who died Earl of Orford.
He was born in 1717, the year in which his father resigned office, remaining in opposition for almost three years before his return to a long tenure of power.
Horace Walpole was educated at Eton, where he formed a school friendship with Thomas Gray, who was but a few months older.
In 1739 Gray was travelling-companion with Walpole in France and Italy until they differed and parted; but the friendship was afterwards renewed, and remained firm to the end.
Horace Walpole went from Eton to King’s College, Cambridge, and entered Parliament in 1741, the year before his father’s final resignation and acceptance of an earldom.
His way of life was made easy to him.
As Usher of the Exchequer, Comptroller of the Pipe, and Clerk of the Estreats in the Exchequer, he received nearly two thousand a year for doing nothing, lived with his father, and amused himself.
Horace Walpole idled, and amused himself with the small life of the fashionable world to which he was proud of belonging, though he had a quick eye for its vanities.
He had social wit, and liked to put it to small uses.
But he was not an empty idler, and there were seasons when he could become a sharp judge of himself.
“I am sensible,” he wrote to his most intimate friend, “I am sensible of having more follies and weaknesses and fewer real good qualities than most men.
I sometimes reflect on this, though, I own, too seldom.
I always want to begin acting like a man, and a sensible one, which I think I might be if I would.” He had deep home affections, and, under many polite affectations, plenty of good sense.
Horace Walpole’s father died in 1745.
The eldest son, who succeeded to the earldom, died in 1751, and left a son, George, who was for a time insane, and lived until 1791.
As George left no child, the title and estates passed to Horace Walpole, then seventy-four years old, and the only uncle who survived.
Horace Walpole thus became Earl of Orford, during the last six years of his life.
As to the title, he said that he felt himself being called names in his old age.
He died unmarried, in the year 1797, at the age of eighty.
He had turned his house at Strawberry Hill, by the Thames, near Twickenham, into a Gothic villa—eighteenth-century Gothic—and amused himself by spending freely upon its adornment with such things as were then fashionable as objects of taste.
But he delighted also in his flowers and his trellises of roses, and the quiet Thames.
When confined by gout to his London house in Arlington Street, flowers from Strawberry Hill and a bird were necessary consolations.
He set up also at Strawberry Hill a private printing press, at which he printed his friend Gray’s poems, also in 1758 his own “Catalogue of the Royal and Noble Authors of England,” and five volumes of “Anecdotes of Painting in England,” between 1762 and 1771.
Horace Walpole produced The Castle of Otranto in 1765, at the mature age of forty-eight.
It was suggested by a dream from which he said he waked one morning, and of which “all I could recover was, that I had thought myself in an ancient castle (a very natural dream for a head like mine, filled with Gothic story), and that on the uppermost banister of a great staircase I saw a gigantic hand in armour.
In the evening I sat down and began to write, without knowing in the least what I intended to say or relate.” So began the tale which professed to be translated by “William Marshal, gentleman, from the Italian of Onuphro Muralto, canon of the Church of St. Nicholas, at Otranto.” It was written in two months.
Walpole’s friend Gray reported to him that at Cambridge the book made “some of them cry a little, and all in general afraid to go to bed o’ nights.” The Castle of Otranto was, in its own way, an early sign of the reaction towards romance in the latter part of the last century. This gives it interest.
‘The place, with its grey sky and withered garlands, its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves, was like a theatre after the performance-all strewn with crumpled playbills.’
Revered as one of the greatest ghost stories ever told, James’s The Turn of the Screw is an eerie Victorian masterpiece.
When an inexperienced governess goes to work at Bly, a country house in Essex to look after a young boy Miles and his sister Flora, all manner of strange events begin to occur. The governess spots a ghostly man and woman around the grounds and is told by the housekeeper that the valet and previous governess haunt the house. It soon becomes clear that the children are inexplicably connected to these ghosts in some way and the young governess struggles to protect the children, although from exactly what, she is not sure.
Exploring the psychological and sexual fears of an era, this ambiguous, suspenseful and anxiety-inspiring novella remains one of Henry James’s most well-known tales.