‘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.
This volume gathers seven of the very best of Henry James's short stories, all exploring the relationship between art and life. In 'The Aspern Papers', a critic is determined to get his hands on a great poet's papers hidden in a faded Venetian house - not matter what the human cost. 'The Author of Beltraffio', 'The Lesson of the Master' and 'The Figure in the Carpet' all focus on naive young men's unsettling encounters with their literary heroes. In 'The Middle Years', a dying novelist begins to glimpse his own potential, while 'The Real Thing' and 'Greville Fane' both explore the tension between artistic and commercial success. These fables of the creative life reveal James at his ironic, provocative best.
Henry James was born in 1843 in New York and died in London in 1916. In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.
Michael Gorra is Professor of English at Smith College and the author of Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (2012), a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in biography.