Henry James Visits the Library


J. P. Morgan et Amicorum, 1908–96
© The Morgan Library & Museum, ARC 3003. Photography by Graham S. Haber, 2016

This is the guest book for visitors to Pierpont Morgan’s library, spanning the years 1908 through 1996. It is ornately bound in brown leather and elaborately gold-tooled and inlaid with lighter brown leather—the work of the binder Marguerite Duprez Lahey. This book was kept for many years in the North Room of Pierpont Morgan’s library, formerly the o ce of Belle Greene, his librarian and, later, the  rst director of the Morgan Library. She began to keep the visitors’ book in 1908 on behalf of her employer. It records the names of all the notable individuals who visited the library over the course of the twentieth century. As this page shows, James visited on 18 January 1911.



This is the visitor's book for the Morgan Library for the 18th of January, 1911. You can see Henry James's signature here when he came to visit. James had an uneasy relationship with the city of New York. He loved the old city of his childhood downtown around Washington Square and 14th Street where his grandmother had lived but he deplored the way the city had developed the skyscrapers and the avenues, the numbered avenues. But yet, when it came to making a collected edition of his work, he wrote to his publisher in 1905, he wrote, "If a name be wanted for the edition for convenience and distinction, I should particularly like to call it the New York Edition if that may pass for a general title of sufficient dignity and distinctness. My feeling about the matter is that it refers to the whole enterprise, explicitly to my native city, to which I have had no great opportunity of rendering that sort of homage."