OP13: Having it all and “The Great White House” of Matcham in Henry James's Last Novels

  • Priscilla Roberts City University of Macau
Keywords: Edwardian, Henry James, High Society, The Golden Bowl, The Wings of the Dove


This paper explores the significance of the mansion of Matcham in Henry James’s two final major novels, The Wings of the Dove (1902) and The Golden Bowl (1905). In many ways, these works represent variations on a theme, the first a tragedy, the second—especially if one accepts one classic definition of comedy as tragedy in which nobody dies—a comedy. In each, two impecunious lovers who cannot afford to marry each other encounter the possibility of massively improving their own lives by their ability to attract and charm the possessors of colossal American wealth. In each case, the fortunes involved prove a profound source of danger to their American owners and to those who would exploit them, distorting the lives of everyone involved. And in each story, the same exclusive English country house—dazzlingly charming, luxurious, even sybaritic, and ultimately sinister—is the fulcrum of the plot.


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Author Biography

Priscilla Roberts, City University of Macau

Priscilla Roberts recently joined the Faculty of Business at the City University of Macau. She has published numerous articles on twentieth-century diplomatic and international history, with a special interest in Anglo-American and Asian-Western relations. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of twenty-seven books, including The Cold War (Stroud: Sutton, 2000); Window on the Forbidden City: The Chinese Diaries of David Bruce, 1973–1974 (Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, U of Hong Kong, 2001); Behind the Bamboo Curtain: China, Vietnam, and the World Beyond Asia (Washington, DC, and Stanford: Wilson Center P and Stanford UP, 2006); Lord Lothian and Anglo-American Relations, 1900–1940 (Dordrecht: Republic of Letters, 2010); The Power of Culture: Encounters Between China and the United States (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2016); and (with Odd Arne Westad) China, Hong Kong, and the Long 1970s: Global Perspectives (Palgrave , 2017). She is currently completing a study of Anglo-American think tanks and China policy, 1950–1995.


How to Cite
Roberts, P. “OP13: Having It All and ‘The Great White House’ of Matcham in Henry James’s Last Novels”. American Studies Journal, May 2016, //ojs.sub.uni-goettingen.de/index.php/ASJ/article/view/44.