Henry James pp 52-98 | Cite as

Victorian and Realist

  • Kenneth Graham
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


The Portrait of a Lady — which most critics have come to see as James’s first great novel — began its serial publication in Macmillan’s in October 1880, just two months before the death of George Eliot. In a way both events marked the end of an epoch for the novel in England. In the same year Trollope, perhaps the last of the mid-Victorians, published his penultimate novel, Dr. Wortle’s School, and was to die two years later. Meredith and Hardy had just established their commanding reputations with The Egoist (1879) and The Return of the Native (1878), and, however unlike one another, were both writers of a radically different kind from George Eliot. George Gissing and George Moore, very much the new Realist voices of the 1880s, published their first novels in 1880 and 1883 respectively, Gissing with Workers in the Dawn and Moore with A Modern Lover. And — just about as far as one could get from the George Eliot tradition — the so-called New Romance, in the hands of Stevenson, Rider Haggard, Hall Caine, and others, was just about to come into prominence, for example with Stevenson’s Treasure Island in 1881–2 and Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines in 1885.


Free Spirit Country House Fictional Mode Lionel Trilling Victorian Period 
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  1. 2.
    Recorded by Simon Nowell-Smith, The Legend of the Master (London: Constable, 1947) p. 75.Google Scholar
  2. 26.
    W. W. Stowe, Balzac, James, and the Realistic Novel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) p. 8.Google Scholar
  3. 53.
    For a helpful survey of James and the theatre in this context, see D. J. Gordon and John Stokes, ‘The Reference of The Tragic Muse’, in The Air of Reality, New Essays on Henry James, ed. John Goode (London: Methuen, 1972) pp. 81–167.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kenneth Graham 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth Graham
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NeuchâtelSwitzerland

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