— But you will be ready to say, what was your hope in doing this? — What did you look forward to? — To any thing, every thing — to time, chance, circumstances, slow effects, sudden bursts, perserverance and weariness ... Every possibility of good was before me, and the first of blessings secured ... — from Emma, by Jane Austen
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

October 24, 2017

(Grumpy) Henry-spotting: at Biltmore




February, 1905:
... [Henry] James had been living abroad, and the past several years had been professionally fruitful ones for him. In that time, he had published such novels as The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl. These followed the success of titles such as The Turn of the Screw, Portrait of a Lady, and Daisy Miller. ... When he arrived at Biltmore, the weather, his mood, and his health combined to make a very gloomy experience. Keeping mostly to his room at Biltmore House, he wrote both to his nephew, Henry 'Harry' James III, and to [Edith] Wharton.
      James arrived during a snowstorm -- 'The land all buried, and the dreariness and bleakness indescribable,' he wrote Harry. Soon after arrival he had what he described as a 'sharp explosion of gout in my left foot.' He was adhering to a regime of bran footbaths and aspirin in hopes to stop the gout short. As to the house, he found little solace in its 'huge freezing spaces' and thought the creation to be 'based on a fundamental ignorance of comfort and wondrous deludedness (though now, I think, on poor George Vanderbilt's part, waked up (from) ...'
      'Pity the poor Biltmorean!' he wrote Harry, complaining that he was lonely, that his room was freezing -- with 'a hideous plate glass window like the door of an ice-house' --and devoid of curtains. James rung his bell in vain, but no servant came to call on him. He hobbled on his gout-ridden foot down the long hallways in search of hot water and a bath. But he was determined to see his visit through before heading south to the warmer climes of Charleston, South Carolina.
      'I shall weather through even the tortures of Biltmore.'
from The Last Castle:  the epic story of love, loss and American 
royalty  in the nation's largest home, by Denise Kiernan

Poor Henry. Poor Vanderbilts!

2 comments:

JoAnn said...

Oh, poor Henry! I'm looking forward to this book. We visited Biltmore in the early spring two or three years ago. Such splendor! The gardens were magnificent, too... my only disappointment was being too early for wisteria.

Audrey said...

I think you'll really enjoy it, especially since you've been there. It's very readable, with lots of cameo appearances like this one. Thank you for pointing it out to me!

Thank you for visiting!

Card Catalog

#6barsets #emma200th #maisie #PalliserParty #Woolfalong A.A. Milne Agatha Christie Alexander McCall Smith Allison Pearson Amy Lowell Angela Thirkell Ann Bridge Anne Perry Anthony Trollope Anticipation Armchair Travels Art Audiobooks Barbara Pym Biography Bloomsbury Bookish things Boston British Library Crime Classics Cambridge Cathleen Schine Charles Dickens Coffee-table books Cookbooks D.E. Stevenson Deborah Crombie Donna Leon Dorothy L. Sayers Dorothy Whipple E.H. Young E.M. Forster Edith Wharton Elinor Lipman Elizabeth Gaskell Elizabeth Jenkins Elizabeth Taylor Elizabeth von Arnim Emily Dickinson Ernest Hemingway Eudora Welty Fiction Films Food from Books Food Writing Found on a Blog George Eliot Georgette Heyer Helen Ashton Henry James History Homes and Haunts Ideas Imogen Robertson Isabella Stewart Gardner Jacqueline Winspear Jane Austen Joanna Trollope Julia Child Language Laurie Colwin Letters Library Books Literature Louise Andrews Kent Louise Penny M.F.K. Fisher Madame Bovary Madame de Sévigné Madame de Staël Margaret Kennedy Margery Sharp Martha Grimes Mary Shelley Memoirs Miss Read My Year with Edith Mysteries Nathaniel Hawthorne Nonfiction Nook Only Connect P.D. James Paris in July Persephones Plays Poetry Pride and Prejudice 200 Queen Victoria R.I.P. Reading England 2015 Ruth Rendell Sarah Orne Jewett Short Stories Switzerland Sylvia Beach Team Middlemarch The 1924 Club The Brontës the Carlyles The Classics Club Thomas Hardy Virago Virginia Woolf Washington Irving Willa Cather William Maxwell Winifred Peck Winifred Watson