The Strange Case of Henry James' Testicles
In October 1861, Henry James suffered an injury that he called a 'horrid...obscure hurt'. Was it a back injury or a more intimate wound? Professor John Sutherland investigates.
What was the nature of the "horrid... obscure hurt" which befell Henry James on the night of October 28th 1861, and how did it influence his literary career?
In October 1861 the 18 year old Henry 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,suffered an injury to his testicles.
Is the story of the "obscure hurt" a fiction as profound as any of James' novels or a real wound which gives us an insight into the life long bachelor's intimate life?
Professor John Sutherland investigates.