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.’


Public Street American Literature Publisher Limited Golf Club North American Literature 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1984

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  • Virginia Woolf

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