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Henry James correspondence

Call Number: MS P159


A group of 8 social and book-business letters by the author Henry James (1843-1916) to varied recipients, and one friendly letter by the politician/lawyer Henry James (Baron James of Hereford, 1828-1922) to the wife of a colleague.


  • 1871 - 1913


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Henry James (1843-1916)

Henry James was the son of Henry James, Sr., who wrote on theology, and the younger brother of philosopher William James. Henry James the younger was a regular contributer to U.S.-based periodicals from 1865 onward, though he settled in Europe by 1875, living in London for over 20 years and later at Lamb House in Rye, Sussex.

James wrote reviews, critical essays, a biography of Nathaniel Hawthorne, prefaces, autobiographical pieces, plays, travel sketches, and short stories. He is best known for his novels that include The American (1877), Portrait of a Lady (1881), and Turn of the Screw (1898), among many others. In 1915 James becamse a British citizen and was awarded the Order of Merit in 1916.

[Information retrieved from "James, Henry," Oxford Companion to English Literature, 7th ed, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009, online version accessed 30 March 2020.]

Biography of Baron James of Hereford (1828-1922)

Henry James, born in 1828 in Hereford, England, was the son of surgeon Philip Turner James and Frances Gertrude James. Henry was one of the first to attend Cheltenham College after it opened in 1841 and, after a brief stint as an apprentice to a civil engineer, joined Middle Temple and was called to the bar in 1852. James built a lucrative legal career through focusing on commerical cases.

He was also able to build a political career in addition to his legal career. As a Member of Parliament, he frequently supported attempts to introduce the secret ballot and was against women's suffrage and Irish home rule. In the fall and winter of 1873 he was appointed first solicitor general and then attorney general, which led to a knighthood, but did not get to see that appointment to fruitiion when Prime Minister Gladstone lost the election in January 1874. He was again attorney general in 1880 when Gladstone came back as prime minister, and in 1885 he was sworn to the privy council. James' main acts as attorney general were writing the "Corrupt Practices Act" of 1883 and drafting the "Reform Act" of 1884.

James became attorney general for the duchy of Cornwall in 1892, as well as receiving an honorary doctorate of law from Cambridge. In 1895 James finally got a cabinet posting as chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, at the same time receiving a seat in the House of Lords as Baron James of Hereford. A lifelong bachelor, the peerage became extinct at his death.

[Information retrieved from Jackson, Patrick, "James, Henry, Baron James of Hereford," in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, published online 23 September 2004.]


9 folders

Physical Location

MS P159

Other Finding Aids

More detailed information about each item in this collection is available at

Custodial History

All items were found in the P.S. O'Hegarty acquisition of 1958. It is probable that they had no common source but were acquired separately by O'Hegarty, who collected James seriously.

The present A:6 was found stubbed into O'Hegarty's copy of James' The Other House (located at O'Hegarty 8525 at Spencer Research Library) in November 1971, and was removed and carded as MS P159:1. The other items were later marked "MS P159: 2-9" in the order in which they had been kept. Spencer staff later removed old item 9 to Section B:1, and renumbered the rest as Section A:1-8 in rough chronological order.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchase, P.S. O'Hegarty, 1958.

Guide to the Henry James Collection
Henry James correspondence
Finding aid prepared by alh, 1997. Finding aid encoded by mwh, 2020.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Henry James correspondence, MS P159, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States