Henry James pp 133-133 | Cite as

James Discourses ‘in the Public Street’

  • Virginia Woolf
Part of the Interviews and Recollections book series (IR)


… we went and had tea with Henry James today, and Mr and Mrs [George] Prothero,1 at the golf club; and Henry James fixed me with his staring blank eye — it is like a child’s marble — and said ‘My dear Virginia, they tell me — they tell me — they tell me — that you — as indeed being your father’s daughter nay your grandfather’s grandchild — the descendant I may say of a century — of a century — of quill pens and ink — ink — ink pots, yes, yes, yes, they tell me — ahm m m — that you, that you, that you write in short.’ This went on in the public street, while we all waited, as farmers wait for the hen to lay an egg — do they? — nervous, polite, and now on this foot now on that. I felt like a condemned person, who sees the knife drop and stick and drop again. Never did any woman hate ‘writing’ as much as I do. But when I am old and famous I shall discourse like Henry James. We had to stop periodically to let him shake himself free of the thing; he made phrases over the bread and butter ‘rude and rapid’ it was, and told us all the scandal of Rye. ‘Mr Jones has eloped, I regret to say, to Tasmania; leaving 12 little Jones, and a possible 13th to Mrs Jones; most regrettable, most unfortunate, and yet not wholly an action to which one has no private key of one’s own so to speak.’



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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Virginia Woolf

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