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This volume of The Complete Letters of Henry James: 1880–1883 includes 122 letters, 67 of which are published for the first time, written between June 6, 1880, and October 20, 1881. The letters record Henry James’s confirmation of his identity as a London resident, follow his struggles with the complexities of his professional life, and illustrate his closer attention to family and friends. His friends, such as Henry and Clover Adams, and family members, such as his brother, William, view him as their resident Londoner. When his sister, Alice, and her companion, Katharine Loring, travel to Britain, James both supervises Alice’s state of health and also reports on its status to their parents.
The letters show Henry James’s professional life as he shifts away from writing pot-boiling reviews and short fiction toward the greater novels that continue to be associated with him, especially The Portrait of a Lady. We also see James negotiating with publishers and arranging whenever possible simultaneous publication in Britain and the United States in order to maximize his writing income. This volume concludes with James’s much-anticipated return to his native America, buoyed by his completion of The Portrait of a Lady. The journey marked a significant milestone in the author’s life.