This list combines all the summary synopses, from the editions of tales on this site, with similar paragraphs about the tales which are not available here, thus covering the whole canon. I have long-threatened to create this page, which I hope will be useful to someone who dimly remembers reading or hearing about a story by James but doesn’t know the title: with a bit of scanning in this list such a person should be able to pin it down. (Warning: some of the entries have a greater or lesser degree of the ‘spoiler’ about them, but this is almost inevitable in such summaries.) I have listed the summaries in chronological order of the tales’ original appearance, to aid those who have an idea of whether the story is ‘early’, ‘middle’ or ‘late’, but here is a alphabetical index:

alphabetical index
The abasement of the Northmores Flickerbridge Madame de Mauves Professor Fargo
Adina Fordham Castle The madonna of the future The pupil
The altar of the dead Four meetings The marriages The real right thing
The Aspern papers The friends of the friends Master Eustace The real thing
At Isella Gabrielle De Bergerac Maud-Evelyn The romance of certain old clothes
The author of Beltraffio Georgina’s reasons The middle years Rose-Agathe
The beast in the jungle The ghostly rental Miss Gunton of Poughkeepsie A round of visits
The Beldonald Holbein The given case Mme. de Mauves The siege of London
The bench of desolation Glasses The modern warning Sir Dominick Ferrand
Benvolio The great condition Mora Montravers Sir Edmund Orme
The birthplace The great good place A most extraordinary case The solution
Broken wings Greville Fane Mrs Medwin The special type
Brooksmith Guest’s confession Mrs Temperly The story in it
A bundle of letters The impressions of a cousin My friend Bingham The story of a masterpiece
The chaperon In the cage A New England winter The story of a year
Collaboration An international episode The next time The sweetheart of M. Briseux
Cousin Maria Jersey Villas Nona Vincent Théodolinde
Covering End John Delavoy Osborne’s revenge The third person
The Coxon fund The jolly corner Owen Wingrave The tone of time
Crapy Cornelia Julia Bride Pandora A tragedy of error
Crawford’s consistency Lady Barberina/ Barbarina The papers Travelling companions
Daisy Miller : a study A landscape painter A passionate pilgrim The tree of knowledge
A day of days The last of the Valerii Paste The turn of the screw
De Grey: a romance The lesson of the master The Patagonia Two countries
The death of the lion The liar The path of duty The two faces
The diary of a man of fifty A light man The Pension Beaurepas The velvet glove
Eugene Pickering A London life The point of view The visit(s)
‘Europe’ Longstaff’s marriage Poor Richard The way it came
The faces Lord Beauprey/ Beaupré The private life The wheel of time
The figure in the carpet Louisa Pallant A problem

Summaries

A tragedy of error (1864) (sources) (reprints)

Hortense Bernier hires a boatman to kill her returning husband, who is lame and can’t swim, but owing to confusion among the tenders to the transatlantic ship, her lover is killed instead.


The story of a year (1865) (sources) (reprints)

During the American Civil War, Elizabeth Crowe, who is engaged to a Union lieutenant, falls in love with another man. The wounded fiancé, brought home to Glenham, blesses the couple on his deathbed, but Lizzie is half-inclined to be faithful to his memory.


A landscape painter (1866) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An unnamed person presents the last section of the diary of a rich man who, having broken off a relationship when he realized the woman only wanted him for his money, pretends to be a poor landscape painter, spends time on the New England coast and is ensnared by another ‘gold-digger’ who has read this very diary and discovered his ‘value’.


A day of days (1866) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Adela Moore, who lives with her scientist brother in the country, has a romantic encounter with a visitor who requires letters of introduction for a trip to Europe.


My friend Bingham (1867) (sources) (reprints)

George Bingham accidentally shoots the son of Lucy Hicks, a widow, on a beach, but despite this inauspicious beginning the couple later marry and are happy.

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Poor Richard (1867) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

In Civil War America, three men, a local farmer and two military men, vie for the affection and hand in marriage of a wealthy young woman. Ultimately her favoured suitor is killed in action and the other two are not sufficiently worthy to succeed.


The story of a masterpiece (1868) (sources) (reprints)

John Lennox is engaged to Marian Everett. In New York Lennox finds an artist, Stephen Baxter, newly returned from Europe, working at the studio of a friend on a painting which bears a resemblance to his fiancée, whom Baxter had met in Rome, Switzerland, and Paris. He commissions a real portrait of Marian from Baxter, but as it develops to reveal more of her character and her rejection of Baxter, Lennox becomes disenchanted with it and, when the canvas is finally delivered to his new house on the eve of his marriage, he hacks it to shreds.


The romance of certain old clothes (1868) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

In mid-eighteenth century New England, Rosalind Wingrave is lucky enough to marry Arthur Lloyd after the death of her sister, who was his first wife. But she disobeys her sister’s dying wish about her wardrobe, with fatal consequences.


A most extraordinary case (1868) (sources) (reprints)

Colonel Mason, ill at the close of the American Civil War, is taken by his Aunt to her country house to recuperate. Mostly he improves but, having fallen in love with Miss Hofmann, he dies when she becomes engaged to his doctor – a most extraordinary case.


A problem (1868) (sources) (reprints)

A young couple meet an American Indian woman, who prophesies that their first child will be a girl but will die young. A girl is born, but survives a serious illness. The wife then reveals that, years earlier, an Italian card reader had told her that she would marry twice. This estranges the couple, Emma going to her mother, with the child, and David seeking solace with a friend, Julia. Six months later the child does die, and, at the funeral, Emma and David are reconciled, and are ‘married’ again by the clergyman, fulfilling all the prophesies.

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De Grey: a romance (1868) (sources) (reprints)

In the 1820s Paul de Grey returns to America to live with his widowed mother, and falls in love with Miss Aldis. Despite a warning from the family’s Catholic priest that the De Grey men have always caused their wives’ early deaths, Paul marries, but this time he is the one who is drained of life.


Osborne’s revenge (1868) (sources) (reprints)

Philip Osborne swears to revenge the suicide of his good friend Robert Graham, whom he believes was jilted by a girl met when taking waters at an upstate spa. Osborne meets this Henrietta Congreve at Newport, and falls in love with her himself, but she doesn’t return his feelings, and he gives up his idea of revenge when he finds that the same thing happened to Graham, who went ‘mad’ over Miss Congreve’s indifference.


A light man (1869) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

We read Maximus Austin’s journal of his return to America from Europe and his stay with the elderly Frederick Sloane, who has employed Austin’s friend Theodore Lisle as secretary. The presence of the two young men seems to cause some vacillation on the part of Mr Sloane as to his will, but it is unclear whether either of them is scheming to be the legatee.


Gabrielle De Bergerac (1869) (sources) (reprints)

M. Bergerac tells the story of his aunt Gabrielle, who, in pre-Revolutionary France, eloped with Pierre Coquelin, the boy’s tutor, when she, having refused a Vicomte, was accused of breaking a promise, and (falsely) of carrying on a clandestine relationship with Coquelin.


Travelling companions (1870) (sources) (reprints)

A Europeanized American meets countryman Mark Evans and his daughter Charlotte in Milan. They travel together, viewing churches and galleries, until, on a day trip to Padua without the father, the young couple miss the last train back, and the narrator thinks he has ‘compromised’ (in European eyes) Charlotte. A few weeks later in Rome he finds Charlotte Evans alone, in mourning, and she accepts his proposal of marriage.

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A passionate pilgrim (1871) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An unnamed American narrator hooks up with a poor, dying compatriot, Clement Searle, who has come to England on a lawyer’s hope that he has a claim to a share in an estate, through a distant forebear. They journey thither and disturb the relatives, the owner because of the claim, even though it looks unlikely to succeed, and his sister through the romance brought to her sheltered life. Now dying in Oxford, Searle gives away his remaining money to a failed scholar who wants to start a new life in America, and is visited by the sister just before his end.


At Isella (1871) (sources) (reprints)

Walking from Lucerne to Isella, in the Italian Alps, the narrator assists an Italian lady who is escaping her husband to join a very ill lover in Geneva.


Master Eustace (1871) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

His former governess relates how the spoilt Master Eustace discovered the history of his origins, with disastrous consequences for his mother.


Guest’s confession (1872) (sources) (reprints)

The narrator meets an attractive girl at a chapel, whilst waiting in a spa town for the arrival of his poorly stepbrother, Edgar Musgrave. The latter has been swindled out of $20,000 by John Guest, who soon arrives at the spa, is forced to sign a confession, but who turns out to be the girl’s father. The parties separate, but eventually Guest pays back Musgrave, who dies and leaves his money and the confession to the narrator, who has to use the latter to get Guest to agree to his marrying the daughter.


The madonna of the future (1873) (sources) (reprints)

The narrator arrives in Florence and meets an American painter, a Mr Theobald, who expatiates on Italian art and is working on his own masterpiece, which the narrator christens the ‘Madonna of the future’. Mrs Coventry, an American hostess in Florence, pooh-poohs Theobald’s efforts, which have not borne fruit for years, and she turns out to have been correct when the narrator’s unflattering comments on Theobald’s ageing model lead to the painter’s decline.

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The sweetheart of M. Briseux (1873) (sources) (reprints)

At a French provincial art gallery the narrator sees the portrait of a ‘Lady in a yellow shawl’ which made the name of the young artist Pierre Briseux shortly before his death in the 1830s. Later he finds an old woman looking intently at the painting. She was the subject and she tells him of the circumstances surrounding its production in Paris, when Briseux took over a canvas from her ineffectual fiancé Harold Staines because he was making such a bad portrait of her.


The last of the Valerii (1874) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The discovery of a Greek statue in a garden in Rome brings out the pagan heritage in a Roman Count, nearly ruining his marriage to a young American.


Mme. de Mauves (later Madame de Mauves) (1874) (sources) (reprints)

An American in Europe, Longmore, gets his acquaintance Mrs Draper to introduce him to her friend Euphemia de Mauves, unhappily married to the philandering M. de Mauves. He falls in love with her, but is too gentlemanly to act on this, even when, two years later, he hears that the husband has committed suicide.


Adina (1874) (sources) (reprints)

The (opening) narrator’s host tells the story of his friend Sam Scrope eighteen years earlier in Rome. He had forced a young Italian to accept 11 scudi for an object the latter had unearthed, which turns out to be a topaz from the time of Tiberius. In revenge, the Italian alienates the affections of Scrope’s fiancée, Adina Washington, and takes her away.


Professor Fargo (1874) (sources) (reprints)

Stranded in a remote New England town, the narrator sees a performance by the travelling medium and magician Professor Fargo and a lightning calculator, the deaf and dumb daughter of Colonel Gifford. Some months later the ‘show’ is failing in New York, and Fargo uses his spiritual magnetism to take over the girl, leaving the Colonel to descend into madness.

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Eugene Pickering (1874) (sources) (reprints)

The narrator, staying at Homburg, meets Eugene Pickering again. The latter has come to Europe from America after the death of his father while he waits for Miss Vernor, the fiancée his father had arranged long ago, to reach eighteen. Pickering is attracted to an adventuress, about whom the narrator hears the worst from his friend Niedermeyer, and follows her to Wiesbaden, where she eventually rejects him. When a letter from Mr Vernor in Smyrna, which Pickering has been carrying about unopened for a month, turns out to be a release from the engagement, the confused young man goes to Smyrna instead.


Benvolio (1875) (sources) (reprints)

A modern parable. Poetic dramatist Benvolio is split between love for the refined, intelligent Scholastica, with her blind father, a Professor, and the pretty, worldly Countess. After the Professor’s death, Scholastica is rendered homeless by her uncle’s refusing to support her whilst she associates with a ‘crackbrained rhymester’. She takes up a post with a family in the antipodes, organized for her by the Countess, but Benvolio finds he can’t be satisfied with only one of the two characters.


Crawford’s consistency (1876) (sources) (reprints)

Crawford, a friend of the doctor narrator, is engaged to Elizabeth Ingram until she and/or her parents break it off. Crawford then marries an aspiring lower-class girl who fails to fit into the social circle, but he sticks by her through thick and thin (he loses his money in a bank crash, for example).


The ghostly rental (1876) (sources) (reprints)

A theology student at Harvard discovers a ‘haunted house’ in a side road to Medford, where an old man goes every quarter to collect a ‘ghostly rental’ from the daughter he cursed years before. Deputizing when the old man is very ill, the student sees the (living) daughter experience the ghost of her father at his moment of death.


Four meetings (1877) (sources) (reprints)

The narrator describes his four meetings with Caroline Spencer: at a New England Christmas, when they discuss Europe; twice at Le Havre, three years later, when she is only just off the transatlantic steamer but lets her art-student cousin badger her out of her little wealth and takes the return sailing; and back in her New England home, five years after that.

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Théodolinde (later Rose-Agathe) (1878) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The narrator describes the unusual love affair of his friend Sanguinetti, who spends minutes at a time staring in at the window of a Parisian hairdressers’ shop.


Daisy Miller : a study (later Daisy Miller) (1878) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The Europeanized American Winterbourne meets a quintessential ‘American girl’, Annie P. Miller, known as ‘Daisy’, and her family in Vevey, Switzerland, and later in Rome. Attracted by her personally, but put off by her too-free manners, especially with the Italian Giovanelli, Winterbourne tries to impose European mores on Daisy, but this only makes her more determined to do her own thing, with eventually fatal consequences.


Longstaff’s marriage (1878) (sources) (reprints)

Travelling unchaperoned in Europe Americans Diana Belfield and her cousin Agatha Gosling [later changed to Josling] meet an ailing young Englishman, Reginald Longstaff, wintering in Nice. He falls in love with Diana, but her refusal of his deathbed proposal and her subsequent departure, pique him into a recovery. After two years back in America, Diana herself falls ill, and teams up with Agatha for a farewell trip to Europe, this time including England. When they meet Longstaff there, she asks him to marry her, which he does, just before she dies.


An international episode (1878) (sources) (reprints)

Bessie Alden meets Englishman Lord Lambeth at Newport, Rhode Island. He is attracted by her American freshness, but she does not reciprocate his feelings. Her innocent enquiries of his friend about Lambeth’s rank, when relayed to London, cause Lambeth’s family to inveigle him back home. When Bessie and her married sister Kitty Westgate are visiting England next year, Lambeth, who wants to invite them to his country house, persuades his mother and sister to call on the Americans, but the meeting is strained. Later Lambeth seems to have proposed to Bessie and been rejected. The Americans leave for Paris and Mrs Westgate fears that the Englishwomen will think that they managed to scare off the Americans.


The Pension Beaurepas (1879) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An unnamed American student, living at a boarding house in Geneva, contrasts two American families, Mrs Church with her daughter Aurora, who have lived in Europe for many years ‘on the cheap’, and the visiting Rucks, whose daughter Sophy has all the freedom of the archetypal ‘American girl’.

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The diary of a man of fifty (1879) (sources) (reprints)

The diarist revisits Florence after twenty-seven years and meets an Englishman, Stanmer, who is courting the widowed daughter of the woman he himself had loved on that previous visit but had not pursued, even when her husband was killed in a duel. He tries to warn off the young man, but later, in London, meets the happily-married Stanmer, and wonders about what might have been in his own life.


A bundle of letters (1879) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A selection of nine letters, written by lodgers at a discreet Parisian boarding house catering for foreigners wishing to learn French, casts varied lights on the national characteristics of the inhabitants of the house, who are from France, America, England, and Germany.


The point of view (1882) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

We get different impressions of Europe and America from eight separate letters, written by seven different people who travelled to America on a transatlantic steamer in 1880.


The siege of London (1883) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Two American men in Europe face a dilemma when they meet a much-divorced woman, whom one of them knew well in the Midwest of America, who is now trying to get into British ‘society’ and to marry an aristocrat who has fallen in love with her but is dubious about her ‘past’.


The impressions of a cousin (1883) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

We read the occasional journal of a female American painter paying an extended visit to her cousin Eunice in New York, who is being defrauded by her trustee Mr Caliph, with whom, however, she is secretly in love. Caliph’s stepbrother extricates him from his crime when he discovers it from the narrator.

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Lady Barberina (later Lady Barbarina) (1884) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Jackson Lemon attempts to reverse the usual pattern of ‘American girl marries English Lord’ by marrying the English Lady Barberina, daughter of Lord Canterville. But it seems the conditions attached are rather different in the new case.


The author of Beltraffio (1884) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The narrator visits the home of the ‘advanced’ novelist Mark Ambient. Ambient’s wife is fearful of the possible corrupting effect of the writings on their sickly son Dolcino, and lets the latter die rather than suffer such ill-effects.


Pandora (1884) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A German diplomat, Count Vogelstein, observes the free behaviour of Pandora Day who is going home on the transatlantic steamer to America. Eventually the girl and her family pitch up in Washington, D.C., where, despite her pushy vulgarity, she succeeds in obtaining a post for her friend Bellamy, whom she later marries.


Georgina’s reasons (1884) (sources) (reprints)

The unconventional Georgina Gressie marries Raymond Benyon in secret, as it is against her parents’ wishes. But she hides the fact, travels to Europe to hide her pregnancy and ‘place’ the child and many years later refuses to allow the honest Benyon to break his promise never to claim the relationship, when he wants to obtain a divorce and marry Kate Theory.


A New England winter (1884) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Mrs Daintry and her maiden sister-in-law plot and counter-plot for the entertainment of her painter son, who has been studying in Paris, during his winter visit to Boston. But, as in all the best comedies, nothing turns out quite as they expect.

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The path of duty (1884) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An American lady, living in London, narrates how the self-sacrifice of Ambrose Tester and Lady Vandeleur makes the life of the bride he did not jilt when he might have, as uncomfortable as perhaps an affair would.


Cousin Maria (later Mrs Temperly) (1887) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A young American painter is frustrated by the docility of the girl he loves and the strong hold her mother has over the family.


Louisa Pallant (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

As expiation for her treatment of his own proposal twenty years earlier, Mrs Louisa Pallant prevents the narrator’s nephew from marrying her mercenary daughter Linda by explaining to him what she is really like.


The Aspern papers (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

As a means of getting hold of papers relating to the early-nineteenth century American romantic poet Jeffrey Aspern, the unnamed narrator manages to obtain lodgings in the Venetian palazzo which houses the very old lady who, in her youth, was Aspern’s muse and (probably) lover. Juliana and her niece remain secretive, and the narrator is, ultimately, unable to pay the emotional price which the papers will cost him.


The liar (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A portrait painter finds that a woman who refused his marriage proposal is now the wife of an habitual liar. It takes the couple’s reaction to his accurate painting of the man to make him realize that she will support her husband because she loves him enough to sacrifice her own truth standard.

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Two countries (later The modern warning) (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An American woman is torn between her brother and her English husband over their attitudes to each others’ countries.


A London life (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A young American girl, living in London after reversal of the family fortune, is damaged psychologically and matrimonially by the break up of her sister’s marriage, which doesn’t seem quite so awful to her English friend.


The lesson of the master (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Tyro novelist Paul Overt takes the advice of the ‘master’ Henry St George to remain single and concentrate his energies on writing, thus leaving Marian Fancourt free to marry St George when his first wife dies.


The Patagonia (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

On a voyage from Boston to Liverpool, Grace Mavis, a young lady reluctantly sailing to join a long-term fiancé, behaves too indecorously with a young man aboard the Patagonia for the society ladies in the company, and cannot, in the end, relieve the strain of her situation except in an obvious, but drastic, way.


The solution (1888) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A retired diplomat remembers a practical joke of his youth which backfired on him.

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The pupil (1891) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An impoverished graduate is drawn into the tragic life of the younger son of a family of American chancers eking out a living in Europe.


Brooksmith (1891) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An unnamed dilettante tells of the gradual decline of a butler who acquired a veneer, and love, of culture in the service of a retired diplomat.


The marriages (1891) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Adela Chart scuppers her father’s second marriage by telling the widow Mrs Churchley a scandalous secret about him, with consequences for her brother who was hoping the lady would help him out of his own scandal. Adela eventually confesses to Mrs Churchley, who explains that she never believed the stories but broke with Adela’s father when he refused to send Adela away.


The chaperon (1891) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Rose Tramore’s mother left her father for a lover years before, but after the father’s death Rose becomes the chaperone for her mother’s re-acceptance by (continental) society.


Sir Edmund Orme (1891) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The ghost of a jilted lover appears so as to ensure that the daughter of the woman involved doesn’t get away with behaving coquettishly.

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Nona Vincent (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Allan Wayworth’s play Nona Vincent is produced with the financial help of Mrs Alsager (who is in love with him). The actress playing the title role, Violet Grey, is a failure at the opening night, but the next afternoon, while Wayworth is dreaming of his ideal Nona, Mrs Alsager coaches Violet in the correct way to play the character.


The private life (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The narrator discovers that the famous writer Vawdrey is really two persons: a public one who dines and talks and a writer with a completely private life. Conversely, Lord Mellifont only exists in public.


The real thing (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A retired army major and his wife are reduced to working as artists’ models but are a failure because their ‘real’ quality doesn’t translate into an artistic reality in drawings of them.


Lord Beauprey (later Lord Beaupré) (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Childhood friends Guy Firminger, unexpectedly inheriting the title Lord Beaupré, and Mary Gosselin pretend to be engaged in order to spare him the attentions of ugly and importunate women and their daughters. Unfortunately, the ‘game’ ends in a way neither could foresee.


The visit (later The visits) (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An old lady recounts her strange experience of the death, apparently from shame, of the daughter of a friend.

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Jersey Villas (later Sir Dominick Ferrand) (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An impecunious writer finds some compromising papers about a dead politician in an old desk he buys, but cannot bring himself to profit by the man’s disgrace, which is fortunate as he is in love with a woman who turns out to be the man’s illegitimate daughter.


Collaboration (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A painter in Paris tells how a French poet and a German musician collaborate on an opera which will please audiences in neither of their respective nations, despite the personal costs involved.


Greville Fane (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The journalist narrator reviews the life of Mrs Stromer, pen-name Greville Fane, who has just died. She tried to bring up her son to be a novelist too, without success, and both her children sponged off her during her life and continue to do so with her literary remains.


The wheel of time (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The wheel of time/fortune provides an unsought revenge for the once plain Fanny Knocker, when her handsome son cannot bear the plain daughter of the man she loved and failed to win in her youth.


Owen Wingrave (1892) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Owen Wingrave, son of a long line of military heroes, refuses to continue his army training, but proves his bravery in an ultimately fatal manner.

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The middle years (1893) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The novelist Dencombe is convalescing at Bournemouth when he spots a person reading his latest novel The middle years. That person is a doctor who, in his enthusiasm for Dencombe’s writings, neglects the wealthy patroness he should be attending, especially when the novelist has a relapse, to his own ultimate detriment.


The death of the lion (1894) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The narrator, a journalist, can’t be ‘chatty’ enough in print about the established but relatively unknown novelist Neil Paraday. However, others can, and Paraday is taken up by society. Participants at a country house weekend lose the manuscript of Paraday’s latest work, part of which he is to read, alongside popular novelists Guy Walsingham (a woman!) and Dora Forbes (a man!), but the lion is already too ill, and dies asking the narrator to print it ‘as it stands – beautifully’.


The Coxon fund (1894) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The narrator is impressed by Frank Saltram’s ideas, when dining with the Mulvilles at Wimbledon, but Saltram is an unreliable lecturer. On the bequest of her husband Lady Coxon has set up a fund, to be administered by her American niece, to support an individual in search of Moral Truth, but the narrator and his friend Gravener, the girl’s fiancé, can’t persuade her that Saltram is not a worthy recipient.


The altar of the dead (1895) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

George Stransom endows an altar on which he dedicates a candle for each of his cherished dead friends. He finds a woman sharing his altar and becomes friends with her, looking forward to the day when she can light his own candle. However, he is devastated when he finds out that she has only been commemorating one man, the best friend who wronged him and who therefore should have no place on his altar.


The next time (1895) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Excellent but unappreciated novelist Ralph (‘Ray’) Limbert keeps trying to write in a popular style to achieve a money-making success, but only every succeeds in being brilliant but unread.

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The figure in the carpet (1896) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Celebrated novelist Hugh Vereker teases the journalist narrator, who admires his work, that there is a hidden thread running through his entire output. The narrator confides in his best friend, George Corvick, who tells his fiancée, Gwendolen Erme, and eventually (whilst abroad) claims to have worked out the ‘figure in the carpet’ and had it confirmed by Vereker. Corvick dies on his honeymoon, however, and Gwendolen will not reveal anything, even if she knows, not even apparently to her second husband, leaving the narrator extremely frustrated.


Glasses (1896) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Beautiful Flora Saunt refuses to wear the glasses she desperately needs, because they will make her ugly. The narrator paints her portrait, which attracts Geoffrey Dawling to the girl, but she prefers Lord Iffield, who, however, worries about her eyesight. After a long stay in America, the narrator sees Flora at the opera in London, without glasses but blind, and married to Dawling.


The way it came (later The friends of the friends) (1896) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Two friends of the narrator, who had both experienced being visited by the spirit of a parent at the moment of their dying far away, repeatedly fail to meet in life, but seem to become inseparable after the death of one of them.


John Delavoy (1898) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The editor of a literary periodical refuses to publish an article about the work of a novelist who treated of ‘the relations between the sexes’, whilst he simultaneously tries to persuade the deceased’s sister to pen a ‘chatty’ personal portrait.


The turn of the screw (1898) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

At a Christmas country-house party, Douglas reads his sister’s former governess’s account of her own first posting, which is now transcribed by the unnamed narrator. The governess’s first-person narrative relates how she reacted to apparitions, apparently of former servants, at Bly, which seemed to be enticing the two children into danger. Despite her good intentions, Flora was driven away with the housekeeper, Mrs Grose, and Miles died when confronted by the governess.

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In the cage (1898) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The young telegraph girl in a West End grocery store lives a vicarious life through the telegrams she transmits for London society, and is able to play a small part in a drama through her knowledge of the codes the regulars use.


Covering End (1898) (sources) (reprints)

A rich American widow saves an impoverished English aristocrat and his country-house property from the clutches of a business man, but not at the expense of her ‘conservative’ principles.


The given case (1898) (sources) (reprints)

The fate of two men, one in love with a separated but not divorced woman, and the other with an engaged girl, depend on their women friends’ view of the ‘givens’ in each case


The great condition (1899) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Two Englishmen fall in love with an American lady whom they meet on the transatlantic boat and who has no known ‘past’. The more forward of them is unable to accept her condition: she will only tell after six months of marriage, but that, by then, the husband will no longer want to know. The other man accepts the condition and is blissfully happy, never wanting to know. The ‘failure’ travels the world without tracing anything about her and, on his return, has to promise her not to spoil her husband’s self-esteem by revealing that fact.


‘Europe’ (1899) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A first-person narrator tells us of the Boston matriarch, Mrs Rimmle, and her three daughters. She had visited Europe when married and, during her thirty years’ widowhood, the daughters have vainly waited for an opportunity to emulate her, maintaining a close interest in European languages and culture the meanwhile. Eventually the middle girl does go, with family friends, and likes it so much that she doesn’t come back. The eldest, who gave up her place of seniority, dies before her long-lived mother.

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Paste (1899) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A poor governess loses out through confessing to her cousin that costume jewellery he gave to her from his stepmother, a former actress who married a clergyman, includes a real pearl necklace.


The real right thing (1899) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The spirit of a deceased writer, haunting his wife and her chosen biographer, ensures that they give up the idea of publishing a ‘Life’


The great good place (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

George Dane despairs of the busyness his literary life and work, but is saved by the mysterious retreat into which he falls when a breakfast guest offers to help.


Maud-Evelyn (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Through Lady Emma we learn the strange history of a man who gradually became convinced of the reality of a fictional past life for himself and the dead daughter of a couple he met abroad.


Miss Gunton of Poughkeepsie (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A wealthy young American girl attracts an Italian Prince, but jilts him when he cannot persuade his family to break with their traditions and invite her ‘in’ before she appeals to them.

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The special type (1900) (sources) (reprints)

A woman selflessly aids a man she loves gain a divorce by manufacturing evidence of an affair between them.


The tree of knowledge (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The son and the best friend of an unsuccessful sculptor face up to the fact that they have both been sparing him and his wife of finding out that they believe his work to be worthless.


The abasement of the Northmores (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The widow of an academic gains some consolation for the way he disappears from public memory through the reception given to publication of the vacuous correspondence of his friend, the man she had rejected in his favour.


The third person (1900) (sources) (reprints)

Two spinster ladies can only rid themselves of the spirit of a smuggling ancestor by smuggling something themselves.


The tone of time (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Two women, who both loved the same man long ago, have their memories rekindled when one commissions the other, by proxy, for a ‘generic’ portrait which ends up being his, done from memory.

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Broken wings (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A painter and a novelist, who each thought the other was too financially and socially successful to be interested in marrying them, realize this when they met again and join together in their poverty.


The faces (later The two faces) (1900) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Lord Gwyther is foolish enough to entrust the bringing out of his wife into London society to his former mistress. She reacts by so overdressing the poor, petite girl that the latter makes an awful impression, but in doing this the lady seems to alienate her new lover.


Mrs Medwin (1901) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Miss Cutter, an American in London, helps people get into society. She uses the unexpected attraction of her disreputable half-brother’s personality to the severe Lady Wantridge to persuade the latter to accept Mrs Medwin.


The Beldonald Holbein (1901) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

An ancient American cousin, who has the look of a Holbein subject, is such a success in London that the relative who brought her over as her companion, to be a foil, sends her back again. To the painter who narrates the story the attention has spoiled the old lady.


The story in it (1902) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Two ladies and a gentleman talk about fiction and its relation to ‘real’ life. Their discussion hinges on whether a story can hold interest without centring on a realized (sexual) relationship, but the reader discovers that this is what this tale actually does.

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Flickerbridge (1902) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Frank Granger, sent to convalesce with his fiancée’s elderly cousin in deepest England, it too taken with the old world atmosphere to condone its being spoilt by his American friends.


The beast in the jungle (1903) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A quiet London government official feels that something prodigious will happen to him during his life. He spends years waiting for it to spring on him, watched over by the one friend, a woman, to whom he has confided his secret. Shortly before she dies she tells him she knows what the beast is and that he has already been its victim, but he doesn’t realise what she might have meant until a year after her death.


The birthplace (1903) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Visitors to the birthplace of England’s most famous poet turn out to be so in need of cosy stories about the man regardless of the lack of evidence and artefacts that, when the new warden can finally bring himself to provide this, he is a great success.


The papers (1903) (sources) (reprints)

Two aspiring journalists in turn-of-the-century London become disillusioned with their publicity-seeking clients.


Fordham Castle (1904) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

The middle-aged American Abel F. Taker, who has been exiled to Geneva by his wife while she conquers London society, finds comfort in the similar plight of a lady who has been hidden to further her daughter’s desire to marry into British aristocracy.

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Julia Bride (1908) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A society beauty in New York has her matrimonial chances apparently ‘dished’ by the divorces of her mother and her own past unfulfilled engagements. Friends who might have been able to help are too intent on their own problems to mitigate these effects.


The jolly corner (1909) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Spencer Brydon returns to New York after more than thirty years, to see to his inheritance, a now empty house, ripe for redevelopment, on the corner of a block. There he sees the ghost of himself as he would have been if he had stayed in America, and experiences a cathartic release with Alice Staverton, a friend from former times.


The velvet glove (1909) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

John Berridge, newly successful author, mistakes the attentions of a beautiful lady who is a trashy novelist for personal rather than business ones.


Mora Montravers (1909) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Mora Montravers, living up to her name, has a devastating effect on her aunt and uncle when she marries the artist Puddick so that he can have their marriage settlement and she can be ‘free’.


Crapy Cornelia (1909) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

A man in late middle age is put off proposing to a New York widow by her brash, modern manner and his memories of ‘old’ New York, induced by meeting again after many years an old family friend, the ‘crapy’ Cornelia Rasch.

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The bench of desolation (1909) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Having declined to marry Kate Cookham, who loves him, Herbert Dodd pays her money to prevent legal action, but she merely invests and accumulates for him secretly over the next ten years. When she returns, it is unclear whether she redeems his family’s life of poverty and his resulting desolation.


A round of visits (1910) (sources) (reprints) (variants)

Mark Monteith, returned to New York in March to handle the aftermath of his trusted friend’s absconding with his, and many others’, money, can find no sympathetic ear but one. And a very strange and tragic one it turns out to be.