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Henry James III (May 18, 1879 – December 13, 1947) was an American writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1931. James, who was described as "delightful, rather pedantic, crisp, and humorous," was the son of William James and the nephew of novelist Henry James.
James was born in Boston, Massachusetts on May 18, 1879. He was the son of William James, a philosopher and psychologist, and Alice Gibbons. He was the grandson of prominent theologian Henry James Sr., the nephew of diarist Alice James, and the novelist Henry James, who referred to him as "Harry" in his letters. Among his siblings there are: Alexander Robertson James and Margaret "Peggy" James Porter. Harry James graduated with an A.B. from Harvard University in 1899 and a Bachelor of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1904. He later received honorary degrees from Hamilton College and Williams College.
He practiced law in Boston from 1906 until 1912, when he became business manager of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, succeeding Jerome D. Greene, and was employed there until 1917.
At the death of his uncle Henry James, Edith Wharton and Theodora Bosanquet's greatest fear was that Harry James, of all people, should be given the task of editing his uncle’s correspondence. First meeting him made a definite impression on James’s secretary, who scribbled this wary description in her Diary: “[N]early white-haired, but still black-moustached,” she noted. “He has a tremendous chin—the most obstinate-looking jaw.” Bosanquet’s nervous apprehension was justified. Distrusted by the family—who also were leery about her lesbianism —she soon was banished from Carlyle Mansions and kept very much at a distance from the final disposition of James’s manuscript remains. Despite her long familiarity with her employer’s difficult handwriting, Bosanquet essentially was dismissed by Percy Lubbock, when Harry insisted that her help in transcribing and typing up letters was neither needed nor wanted. Edith Wharton was afraid that this cruel separation would “kill” Little B. (the affectionate nickname that Wharton and Lubbock had bestowed upon her), but from the sidelines, Theodora Bosanquet remained ever faithful, writing important commemorative articles and publishing (in 1924) her still very useful discussion of Henry James at Work.
During World War I Harry James was a member of the Rockefeller Foundation's War Relief Commission, served as a private in the 89th Infantry Division, and was commissioned as a lieutenant. From 1918 to 1919, he was a member of the Versailles Peace Conference which negotiated the peace terms of the end of World War I. He also served as chairman of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association from 1928 until his death in 1947, and served 12 years as an overseer of Harvard, where he was a fellow from 1936 until 1947.
James wrote Richard Olney and His Public Service, which was published in 1923, a biography of Richard Olney, the U.S. Secretary of State, and Charles W. Eliot, President of Harvard University, 1869-1901 a biography of Charles W. Eliot published in 1930 , which won the 1931 Pulitzer Prize for History. James also edited The Letters of William James, which was published in 1921.
On June 11, 1917, he married Olivia Cutting, daughter of financier William Bayard Cutting. The couple were rather hastily married, the bride would have preferred to elope and avoid a public ceremony altogether, but some who knew them already had misgivings about the union. A few weeks after the wedding, as Henry's mother was on board a ferry en route to Maine, she encountered Katherine Loring (who had been the long-time female companion of her sister-in-law, Alice James), who pointedly congratulated her on Harry's "good marriage". Pricked by Loring's ironic tone, Mrs James defensevely "said it was all that" and that she was a "fortunate woman" to have Olivia for a daughter-in-law. But six months after their marriage, Harry James discovered that his wife was lesbian.
After their divorce in 1930, he married Dorothea Draper Bladgen, the sister of actress Ruth Draper. Dorothea was the widow of Linzee Blagden, who died in 1936, and the granddaughter of Charles Anderson Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War under President Lincoln. Dorothea and Ruth's other sister, Martha Lincoln Draper, became the female companion of Olivia Cutting. James himself, has been suggested by Michael Anesko, was queer.
James died at his residence, 133 East 64th Street in New York City, on December 13, 1947. His memorial service was held at Grace Church in Manhattan.
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