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The curse of Henry James

The spate of novels about Henry James seems odd even to Michiel Heyns, who wrote one of them. But to reclaim a principle of mastery, novelists seem willing to violate a life

By Michiel Heyns   September 2004

My agent forwards me another polite letter of rejection: “I am so sorry but timing is all – and there has just been a spate of fiction based on the life of Henry James published here. I don’t know how these coincidences happen… something in the atmosphere? So regretfully I must say no.”

The spate of fiction referred to by this editor, I don’t need reminding, is Felony by Emma Tennant (Jonathan Cape), The Master by Colm Tóibín (Picador), and now Author, Author by David Lodge (Secker & Warburg). My own novel, The Typewriter’s Tale, thus has to make its…

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