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Fred Kaplan

Posted 5/26/2014 7:35am by Eugene Wyatt.

Spending time with Henry James,

When he dined with Leslie Stephen and his "remarkably beautiful" bride just after their honeymoon, he saw the usually morose Stephen happy for the first time. She "has cheered him up amazingly; but I don't see what he has done to merit so grandly fair a creature." 

Julia, Leslie Stephen's bride, the mother of Virginia Woolf and the model for Mrs. Ramsey in To The Lighthouse. Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1867.

At another dinner he met Walter Pater, already well-known for work on the Renaissance, and found him pale, gray, unattractive, "far from being as beautiful as his own prose." James responded unfavorably to Pater's physical appearance and to a preciousness that hinted at his homosexuality. Another time James had the interesting experience of sitting next to Ruskin's former wife, "a very big, handsome, coarse, vulgar, jolly, easy friendly Scotchwoman, and as unRuskinish a being as one could conceive," now married to the painter John Millais; her marriage to Ruskin had been annulled on the grounds of nonconsummation.

Henry James, The Imagination of Genius page 216, Fred Kaplan, 1992.

Julia Margaret Cameron at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, August 19, 2013–January 5, 2014.