Henry James and Venice
Henry James' biographer, Leon Edel, called Venice "one of the greatest topographical love affairs of James' life."
Henry James paid his first visit to Venice in 1869, aged twenty-six. Over the next four decades he would return a total of nine times, paying his last visit to the city in 1907.
- 1869: September. James stays at the Hotel Barbesi, one of the buildings now occupied by the Hotel Europa & Regina.
- 1872: September. Very brief stay with his sister, Alice.
- 1881: March to June. James rents rooms on the fourth floor of the Pensione Wildner and worked on his novel, Portrait of a Lady. “I lodged on the Riva, 4161, quarto piano. The view from my window was 'una bellezza'.”
- 1887: February to March. James stays at the Casa Alvisi, the pink building to the left of the Hotel Europa & Regina, the guest of Mrs Katherine de Kay Bronson. Mrs Bronson’s guests actually stayed in the Palazzo Giustiniani Recanati, which was located at the rear of the Casa Alvisi. The palazzo has now been replaced by a modern building.
- 1887: June to July. James stays for the first time at the Palazzo Barbaro as the guest of Daniel Sargent Curtis and Ariana Wormeley Curtis. In 1885 the couple had bought the second piano nobile and the upper part of the palazzo. HJ completes his novella The Aspern Papers, most of which had been written in April and May, while he was living in Florence.
- 1890: June. Palazzo Barbaro.
- 1892: July. James stays at the Palazzo Barbaro, but this time as the guest of Isabella Stewart Gardner, who had rented the property for the summer from the Curtises. As the house was full of people, a bed was made up for HJ in the 'divine old library’.
- 1894: April to May and June to July. James stays at the Casa Biondetti, which lies on the Grand Canal to the right of the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni (home to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection). James had returned to Venice to work, in his capacity as literary executor, on the papers of fellow novelist and friend, Constance Fenimore Woolson, who had died in January.
- 1899: April to May. Palazzo Barbaro.
- 1907: June. James pays what will be his last visit to both the Palazzo Barbaro and to Venice, itself.