Author Henry James visits Seattle on April 18, 1905.

  • By Greg Lange
  • Posted 1/01/1999
  • Essay 2056
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On April 18, 1905, American author Henry James (1843-1916) visits Seattle as part of his 11-month tour of America. Henry James was born in the United States and in 1876 moved permanently to London. His best-known novels are The Portrait of a Lady (1881) and The Turn of the Screw (1898).

After the tour James intended to write a book on the United States. He stayed with his nephew, Edward Holton James, at 1424 7th Avenue W on the west side of Queen Anne Hill. (This building was torn down about 1942. On the same site a new residence, built in 1961, has a new address: 1425 Willard Avenue W.)

During his two- or three-day visit he toured the city.

"Wondrous, Moist, Ethereal Wildness"

On March 12, 1906, Henry James wrote to his host Edward James, giving his impressions of Seattle:

“Of Seattle I remember most tenderly your verandah and its view, and the sense of your wondrous moist, ethereal wildness; and then the dear little kindly lodging clubs; and the exquisite impression of the mystic lake in the hills, with the woods and the club-houses hanging over it…”

The “lodging clubs” probably referred to the University Club at 1104 Boren Avenue at the corner of Madison Street. After returning to England, James wrote The American Scene (1907) about the Eastern United States. He never did write his proposed book on the Western United States.


Milton A. Mays, “Henry James in Seattle,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 59, No. 4 (October, 1968), pp. 186-189; King County Assessor's Office, "Property Record Card, Parcel No. 173280-1211, Washington State Archives, Puget Sound Regional Branch, Bellevue, Washington.

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