Radio 4 has announced the beginning of a journey through the life and work of Henry James with Love Henry James - a series of programmes in celebration of one of the greatest novelists of the early twentieth century.
Running throughout July and August 2017 on BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra, a selection of documentaries and dramas will explore the life and works of Henry James.
Jeremy Howe, Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction at BBC Radio 4, says: “I can think of no one in literature who explores the intricacies and vagaries of the human heart with such power and perception as Henry James. While some might find his books challenging to read, the stories he tells are compelling. We want to take our audience on a journey through the world of love that Henry James explored with such brilliance. We want our listeners to Love Henry James.”
The season begins on Thursday 27 July on Radio 4 with the documentary Love Henry James: The Master, presented by American professor Sarah Churchwell and Irish author Colm Tóibín. It is followed by dramatisations of three of James’ novels: Roderick Hudson, The Portrait Of A Lady and Daisy Miller, with stars including Sacha Dhawan (Mr Selfridge, Iron Fist), Emily Beecham (Hail, Caesar!, Into The Badlands), Jack Lowden (War And Peace, Denial) and Joanna Vanderham (Banished, The Paradise), with introductions from John Lynch as Henry James himself. For someone who wrote so much about love, James was strangely loveless himself, and the final documentary and drama explore this in more depth. In The Strange Case of Henry James’ Testicles, Professor John Sutherland asks if there was a physical reason for this, whilst Peter Ansorge’s new play Portrait Of A Gentleman portrays one of James’ doomed love affairs.
Love Henry James: The Master
Radio 4, Thursday 27 July, 11am-midday
Witty, wise and the best women in literature. So why doesn’t Henry James inspire the widespread devotion in which Jane Austen and the Brontës bask? Sarah Churchwell is on a mission to solve that mystery and turn readers on to the limitless charms of the Father of the modern novel.
With the help of author Colm Tóibín and literary biographer Hermione Lee, Sarah will showcase the very best of his work and prove that James isn’t just an important novelist but also a thoroughly enjoyable read.
It is Henry’s women that keep bringing film-makers and fans to his work. No male novelist before or since has spent an entire career faithfully placing himself within the consciousness of women. Alone amongst the great men of Victorian and Edwardian literature, he assumed that a woman could feel as he did and experience the same powerful drive to act. Those feelings and desires, however, are again and again thwarted in James’ novels by the constraints of society and his characters’ moral sense.
Sarah Churchwell reassesses those great characters and offers up their magnetic attraction and fatal flaws for the new audience that Henry James, more than a century on from his death, richly deserves.
Producer: Alasdair Cross
Love Henry James: Roderick Hudson
Radio 4, Saturday 29 July and Saturday 5 August, 2.30-3.30pm
In Lavinia Murray’s adaptation of Roderick Hudson, obsession, love and desire intermingle as old and new worlds collide.
Rowland Mallet - a wealthy Bostonian bachelor becomes patron to a young sculptor, Roderick Hudson. He takes him from the US to Rome to study and develop his art. Their conflicting and complex relationship is heightened in the 'old world' as Rowland falls in love with Mary Garland, Roderick's fiance, and Roderick becomes involved in a destructive relationship with the beautiful Christina Light.
Derek Riddell... Rowland Mallett
Luke Newberry... Roderick Hudson
Emily Beecham... Christina Light
Lorelei King... Mrs Light
Caitlin Thorburn... Mary Garland
Kate Coogan... Cecilia
Susan Twist... Mrs Hudson
Stephen Marzella... Cavaliere
Producer: Pauline Harris
Love Henry James: The Portrait Of A Lady
Radio 4, Sunday 30 July, 3-4pm
Arriving in England from her native America Isabel Archer immediately draws attention because of her intelligence, candour and independent spirit. Isabel is pursued by two suitors but determined to explore what the world has to offer she strives to have the freedom to determine her own future declaring she will never marry. Seeing her desire to break away from the conventions of her society and pursue her own course, her cousin Ralph does something extraordinary.
Joanna Vanderham... Isabel Archer
Sacha Dhawan... Ralph Touchett
Susan Lynch... Madame Merle
Joseph Millson... Gilbert Osmond
Lara Rossi... Henrietta Stackpole
Jonathan Keeble... Mr Touchett
Frances Barber... Mrs Touchett
Ifan Meredith... Lord Warburton
Samuel Edward-Cook... Caspar Goodwood
Chetna Pandya... Countess Gemini
Adaptation: Linda Marshall Griffiths
Producer: Nadia Molinari
Love Henry James: Daisy Miller
Radio 4, Monday 31 July - Friday 4 August, 10.45-11am
Frederick Winterbourne meets the beautiful and free spirited Daisy Miller and falls instantly in love but when his desire for her is met with disapproval from his aunt will he follow his heart?
Jack Lowden... Winterbourne
Julianna Jennings... Daisy Miller
Cesare Taurasi... Mr Giovanelli
Leanne Best... Mrs Walker
Laurel Lefkow... Mrs Miller
Barbara Barnes... Mrs Costello
Haris Giannakopoulos... Randolph Miller
Adaptation: Amanda Dalton
Producer: Nadia Molinari
The Real Henry James
Radio 4 Extra, Monday 31 July - Friday 4 August, 9.45-10am
To mark the centenary of Henry James’ death, the great writer is revealed through his letters and memoirs.
Henry James was not only a great novelist - he also wrote a great deal of entertaining non-fiction, producing reviews and essays on a wide variety of subjects. To mark the centenary of his death, these five anthologies reveal James through his letters, memoirs, essays and private notebooks.
First broadcast on Radio 4 in 2016.
The Horror at Bly
Radio 4 Extra, Tuesday 1 August, 11.15am-midday
Radio 4 Extra examines one of James’ most enduring stories, The Turn Of The Screw.
First appearing in print in 1898, The Turn of the Screw, Henry James's classic horror story, has inspired a variety of films, plays and novels and even a Benjamin Britten opera.
Was it simply a tale of possession of two young children or had it a deeper Freudian significance?
This dissection of the mystery is narrated by Gavin Campbell, featuring key scenes from the story, with Anna Massey as the Governess.
First heard on Radio 4 in 1978.
The Strange Case Of Henry James’ Testicles
Radio 4, Tuesday 1 August, 11.30-midday
What was the nature of the "horrid… obscure hurt" which befell Henry James on the night of October 28 1861, and how did it influence his literary career? Professor John Sutherland investigates.
In October 1861, the 18 year old James was working as a fireman, and was called to battle a blaze at the West Stables in Newport Rhode Island. There, while putting out the fire, he suffered an injury, referred to in his autobiography as a "horrid… obscure hurt." James scholars have been divided ever since on whether James injured his back, or, more painfully, in some way injured his testicles. Does it go some way to explaining the (non) sexual life of the life-long bachelor and a doctor's later diagnosis of a 'low amatory coefficient"?
No-one who reads Daisy Miller or The Portrait Of A Lady could feel that James disliked women. We know from his relationship with Constance Fenimore Woolson of the drowned dresses in the lagoon that he could form close emotional relationships with women, and lead them on. But he also wrote rather feverish letters to young men. There is little doubt that James was deeply closeted… but what about the testicles?
Love Henry James: Portrait Of A Gentleman
Radio 4, Wednesday 12 August, 2.30-3.30pm
While James was in Venice completing The Portrait Of A Lady, his dalliance with a young American woman inspired him to complete the novel which many consider his masterpiece, but James’ inability to commit to the relationship led to a tragedy which many feel informed his later, darker works.
Based on true events, this is a first drama for radio by Peter Ansorge, one of the pioneers of ground breaking British television drama in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.