"The Master, with his thumb in his striped waistcoat"
Portrait of Henry James (1908)
Portrait of Henry James (1908)
Creative Commons AttributionPortrait of Henry James (1908) - Credit: Portrait: Jacques-Émile Blanche; Image: Cliff

At the beginning of the 20th century, Henry James came to be known in literary circles as 'The Master'.

Leon Edel gave the title Henry James: The Master 1901-1916 to the final section of his five-part biography of the novelist, which was published in 1972.

The Master is also the title of a novel by Colm Tóibín which was shortlisted for the Booker prize in 2004 (the year Alan Hollinghurst won the prize for The Line of Beauty). Tóibín's novel is a fictionalised  account of Henry James' life during the last decade of the 19th century, and explores issues relating to his sense of identity and his sexuality.

Henry James himself wrote a novella entitled The Lesson of the Master which was published in 1888.

John Singer Sargent painted a portrait of Henry James 'with his thumb in his striped waistcoat'.

Click here to see Sargent's portrait.