FIRST IMPRESSIONS / Ehrman Syme Nadal on Henry James

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The Independent Culture
'A rather dark and decidedly handsome young man of medium height, with a full beard, stood in the doorway and bowed stiffly, as if he were not to be confused with the rank and file of his compatriots'

Nadal was Second Secretary of the American Legation in London and he first saw Henry James on Independence Day, 4 July 1877, at the American Embassy, writes Catriona Luke. For years James had shuttled between Europe and America, unable to settle in one place or even one country, but accumulating a wealth of conscious and unconscious material for his finely wrought portraits of European and American manners. In 1876 he made London a permanent home. Nadal, a relaxed Southerner, was sceptical of the efforts of Americans to be accepted in London society. James, however, was quite happy to wear himself out in the process. In the winter of 1878-9 he accepted 140 dinner and luncheon invitations. He was naturalised in 1915, a year before his death.

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