"'Actually, I've always rather wanted to make a film of The Spoils of Poynton . . .'"
Henry James
Public DomainHenry James - Credit: John Singer Sargent

The Spoils of Poynton is a short novel by Henry James. It was first published in serial form in The Atlantic Monthly in 1896 under the title The Old Things.

In the novel, the spoils of Poynton are the antiques and works of art which belong to the Gereth family of Poynton Park, an English country house. When Mr Gereth dies, his widow and son, Owen, become caught up in a battle about what will happen to the house's contents. The story is told from the point of view of a sensitive young woman called Fleda Vetch who is in love with Owen. However, when Owen eventually falls in love with Fleda, he is already engaged to the coarse and materialistic Mona Brigstock, and is persuaded by Fleda to honour his commitment. The novel ends with a fire at Poynton Hall and the loss of the heirlooms at the centre of the family conflict.

Click here to read The Spoils of Poynton on-line.

A four-part television adaptation of the novel was made by the BBC in 1970.

Click here to see a video of the first episode.