the Ladder

a Henry James website

written and edited by Adrian Dover

“It rested – the ladder – against the great stony wall
of the public attention”   The papers – Henry James

Welcome to the Ladder, a website devoted to the writer Henry James (1843–1916). He was one of the foremost literary figures of his time, leaving us an enormous body of novels, ‘tales’ (short stories), literary and art criticism and travel writing. Throughout the twentieth century, and on into our own, different generations of scholars have found in his work points of reference for the preoccupations of their own time, and numbers of ‘ordinary’ readers dreamed of by James but never achieved in his lifetime have been enthralled by the rich texture of his writing.

Because the Henry James scholar’s Guide to Web Sites provides an excellent summary of James-related material available on the web, and modern search engines can find all the eclectic rubbish, the Ladder does not aim to be a comprehensive collection of James information. Rather, its chief purpose is to make available electronic texts (editions), suitable for the world wide web, of some of the works not available elsewhere, particularly the tales. Because of the number of titles available, they are indexed on a separate page. Click on the ‘editions available on this site’ option (to be found on the menus, when displayed) for all the relevant links. If you are seeking a text not available here, go first to the Henry James scholar’s
Guide to Web Sites
, which has a reasonably comprehensive listing, with annotations about the quality, and then try search engines.

Please note that if you have access to a browser that supports HTML frames, you should use the frames-based version of this site, which is much easier to navigate.

Over the course of time, the Ladder has accrued many additional ‘rungs’. I have been led into compiling some scholarly reference tools, such as a concordance to my editions, an index to published (book) collections of the tales and the ‘missing’ index to lists of possible character names in James’s surviving notebooks. I have also now provided a page of suggestions which may help you if you are completely new to Henry James’s writing, answering the question “where do I begin?” You can find all these features through the menu in the left-hand frame, and introductory descriptions of them are available on a guide to the site.

A future project, perhaps using one of the shorter tales as a guinea-pig, might be to find a method of presenting James’s various revisions on the Internet, possibly using XML. If you have any comments on my current work here or have web ideas you wish to share, please feel free to contact me for a discussion.

Being in favour of using standards, I do try to stick to XHTML 1.0 Transitional in my mark-up, and to test my pages on popular PC browsers (sorry, I have no access to Apple Macs) such as the recent Mozilla Firefox and the excellent Opera; the erstwhile Netscape™ (4·7x and 6); and even the dreadful Internet Explorer (5, 6 and now 7). However, if you encounter problems, particularly with the JavaScript™ on some of the ‘clever’ pages, please let me know: stating which platform, browser (including version) and which page, of course.

Adrian Dover – August 2010

this menu and introduction © 2004–2010
part of the Ladder : a Henry James website