Henry James moved to London in 1875, at age thirty-two, and wrote to his family on arriving: “I take possession of the old world—I inhale it—I appropriate it!” He stayed for the rest of his life, and made the American encounter with Europe one of his major themes. And on a spring day in Florence, in 1880, he began to write The Portrait of a Lady—one of his greatest novels, and certainly his most popular.
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