“A sweeping biography . . . [Fisher] gives fair and sympathetic time to everyone, and provides a lively and detailed social history of the period.” —The New York Times
The James family, a true American dynasty, gave the world three famous children: Henry, a novelist of genius; William, an influential philosopher; and Alice, an invalid who became a feminist icon, despite her sheltered life and struggles with mental illness.
Paul Fisher’s masterly biography provides a captivating account of the conflicts—bitter struggles with depression, alcoholism, jealousy, and panic disorders—that shaped the members of this brilliant family, including the two other brothers, Wilkie and Bob, whose achievements were constantly overshadowed by those of their siblings. Their mother, Mary, lent the family some stability, while the mercurial Henry James Sr. nurtured, inspired, and emotionally wounded his children, setting the stage for their intense rivalries and extraordinary achievements. House of Wits is a revealing cultural history that completes our understanding of its remarkable protagonists and the changing world in which they came of age.