Henry James
Born: 15 Apr, 1843
Died: 28 Feb, 1916
Field: Writer; novelist
Location in the Abbey: South transept, poets corner
Type of memorial: Stone
Type of material: Marble

On 17 June 1976 a memorial stone for Henry James, American born novelist, was unveiled in Poets' Corner Westminster Abbey by his great grand-nephew Alexander James, jr.  Tributes were given by Stephen Spender and Roger Asselineau with an address by Leon Edel of the University of Hawaii. Actor Sir Ralph Richardson read extracts from The Portrait of a Lady.

The inscription, executed by Will Carter, is in white letters on a black marble stone and reads:

"HENRY JAMES O.M. Novelist. New York 1843.London 1916"

The stone adjoins the memorials to Dylan Thomas, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Lewis Carroll and fellow American T.S.Eliot. Henry was born on 15 April 1843 in New York City, a son of Henry James and his wife Mary (Walsh). For a short time he attended Harvard law school and was exempted from service in the American Civil War due to poor health. In 1864 he published his first short story. In Paris he worked for the New York Tribune and then moved to London. He later lived at Lamb House, Rye, Sussex. Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady and The Ambassadors are well known novels and his short stories include 'The Aspern Papers' and 'The Turn of the Screw'. His last two masterpieces were The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl.  In 1915 he was naturalized British and was appointed to the Order of Merit in the following year. He died on 28 February 1916 and was cremated by his own wish and his ashes were buried in the family plot at Cambridge, Massachusetts. The inscription on his gravestone there reads "Henry James O.M. novelist,citizen of two countries,interpreter of his generation on both sides of the sea. New York April 15 1843. London February 28 1916".

A photograph of the memorial can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

The other American commemorated in Poets' Corner is H.W.Longfellow.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

His house in Rye is owned by the National Trust and is open to the public on certain days.

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