Alice James: A Biography

The Jameses are perhaps the most extraordinary and distinguished family in American intellectual life. Henry’s novels, celebrated as among the finest in the language, and William’s groundbreaking philosophical and psychological works have won these brothers a permanent place at the center of the nation’s cultural firmament.

Less well known is their enigmatic younger sister, Alice. As Jean Strouse’s generous, probing, and deeply sympathetic biography shows, Alice James was a fascinating and exceptional figure in her own right. Tormented throughout her short life by an array of nervous disorders, constrained by social convention and internal conflict from achieving the worldly success she desired, Alice was nonetheless a vivid, witty writer, an acute social observer, and as alert, inquiring, and engaging a person as her two famous brothers.

“The moral and philosophical questions that Henry wrote up as fiction and William as science,” writes Strouse, “Alice simply lived.”

By Jean Strouse
Preface by Colm Tóibín
367 pages
New York Review Books, 2011.
Paperback
5.4 x 0.8 x 8 inches