View of the Wrekin from Wenlock Edge. Photograph 2005 by the author.

This revised, updated version of Part II of John Ruskin, Henry James and the Shropshire Lads (2008), under the new title of Henry James and the Ruined Abbeys of Shropshire, introduces new material and research. It benefits from the author's access to unpublished material in a private archive that developed into a major work, Wenlock Abbey 1857-1919: A Shropshire Country House and the Milnes Gaskell Family (2015).

Henry James was a guest of Charles Milnes Gaskell and Lady Catherine at Wenlock Abbey, in the little medieval market town of Much Wenlock, in rural Shropshire, for five days in July 1877. He was following in the steps of his fellow countryman Henry Adams, grandson of John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the USA. Henry James discovered and appropriated the stunning Shropshire landscape of Wenlock Edge with scenery stretching as far as the blue mountains of Wales, and medieval abbeys and castles at Wenlock, Buildwas, Ludlow and Stokesay. These impressions provided the material for his evocative article "Abbeys and Castles" published only three months later in October. He immersed himself in Wenlock Abbey and found inspiration there for stories such as The Turn of the Screw, The Princess Casamassima, The Portrait of a Lady, among others. I derived much pleasure from following and untangling Henry James's hidden itinerary of his essay "Abbeys and Castles", in places laden with medieval history and mystery. Henry James well and truly shed his feeling of "inexorable yankeehood" during his Shropshire sojourns in 1877 and 1878.

Last modified 14 March 2020