Millicent Bell is Professor of English Emerita at Boston University. She is the author of Meaning in Henry James and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Edith Wharton. (May 1998)

IN THE REVIEW

Victoria’s Secrets

Other Powers: The Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull

by Barbara Goldsmith

Notorious Victoria

by Mary Gabriel
During the first decade after the Civil War what was called the “trial of the century” opened in New York and became a sensational popular spectacle. It was not even a murder trial—just a husband’s suit against the man he claimed was his wife’s seducer—but it transfixed the nation, crowding …

George Eliot, Radical

George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography

by Frederick R Karl

The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot, Her Letters and Fiction

by Rosemarie Bodenheimer
How could she have written them? Henry James, reading John Cross’s biography of George Eliot in 1885, decided that it failed to explain how “this quiet, anxious, sedentary, serious, invalidical English lady, without animal spirits, without adventures or sensations, should have made us believe that nothing in the world was …

Dangerous Women

The Brontës

by Juliet Barker

Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life

by Lyndall Gordon
On Sundays and holidays buses and cars back up along the steeply inclined main street with its cobbles set long ago to catch the slipping hooves of horses, for Haworth is England’s most visited tourist shrine after Stratford. The Black Bull, where Branwell drank himself sodden, now has a Brontë …

‘The Margaret Ghost’

The Letters of Margaret Fuller

1817-1850, in six volumes edited by Robert N. Hudspeth

Minerva and the Muse: A Life of Margaret Fuller

by Joan Von Mehren
On July 19, 1850, the freighter Elizabeth, having sailed from Leghorn, was wrecked in a storm on a sandbar off Fire Island, and Margaret Fuller, returning to America after an absence of four years, was drowned along with her Italian husband, Giovanni Ossoli, and their infant child. Watchers on the …

What Henry Knew

The Complete Notebooks of Henry James

edited with introductions and notes by Leon Edel and Lyall H. Powers
In 1905, past sixty, James had written much and was eminent—at least with those who really knew what literature was—and Scribner’s was bringing out his “works” as though he were already an acknowledged classic, in twenty-four volumes bound in plum-colored cloth. For The New York Edition he had set himself …

Notes of a Friend and Brother

Henry James Letters Volume 4: 1895––1916

edited by Leon Edel
The popular image of the aging Henry James was described by Hugh Walpole: “a sort of stuffed waxwork from whose mouth a stream of coloured sentences, like winding rolls of green and pink paper, are forever issuing.” There is James asking a passer-by for road directions—in the style of The …

Pioneer

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Making of a Radical Feminist, 1860-1896

by Mary A. Hill
“We shall hardly outgrow her in long, long lives to come. In time to come they will be saying: ‘How She Knew!’ ” wrote Zona Gale when Charlotte Perkins Gilman died in 1935. But, in fact, Gilman rapidly began to be forgotten—this redoubtable circuit-rider of radical feminism, indefatigable lecturer and …

The Education of Clover Adams

Clover

by Otto Friedrich
The contrast between male and female opportunities for historic survival could not be better illustrated than in the cases of Henry Adams and his wife Marian, called “Clover” by her family and friends. To be a male Adams was to be condemned to the light of history, however disinclined one …