The Death & Letters of Alice James: Selected Correspondence
Alice James (1848-1892) was the sister of Henry and William James, as literary as her more famous brothers, but — as was typical for a Victorian woman — never formally educated and thus deprived of any opportunity for a normal "career." In her introductory biographical essay, Professor Ruth Bernard Yeazell of Yale University argues that Alice James instead made a career of her lifelong neurasthenic illness and anticipation of death. In this selection of letters, many written from the invalid’s bed, one finds Alice James witty and lyrical, but always deeply morbid: an artist of the deathbed, reminiscent of Kafka’s fictional Hunger Artist. Susan Sontag was inspired by this book to write her play, Alice in Bed. And critic Elaine Showalter has said that The Death and Letters of Alice James is, "A book everyone interested in women’s history and literature will want."
"Henry went to Harvard and became a famous novelist; William went to Harvard and became a distinguished psychologist; Alice was kept at home and had hysteria… Reading her letters in their entirety brings Alice and the other Jameses to life." — Washington Post
"[A] discriminating selection of Alice James’s often witty and sad letters… they show her Jamesian mental energy, force of character and verbal ability." — New York Times Book Review