by Henry James
'The Bostonians' Summary
Mississippi lawyer and Civil War veteran, Basil Ransom, visits his cousin Olive Chancellor in Boston. She takes him to a political meeting where Verena Tarrant delivers a feminist speech. Ransom, a strong conservative, is annoyed by the speech but fascinated with the speaker. Olive, who has never before set eyes on Verena, is equally fascinated. She persuades Verena to leave her parents' house, move in with her and study in preparation for a career in the feminist movement. Meanwhile, Ransom returns to his law practice in New York, which is not doing well. He visits Boston again and walks with Verena through the Harvard College grounds, including the impressive Civil War Memorial Hall. Verena finds herself attracted to the charismatic Ransom.
Basil eventually proposes to Verena, much to Olive's dismay. Olive has arranged for Verena to speak at the Boston Music Hall. Ransom shows up at the hall just before Verena is scheduled to begin her speech. He persuades Verena to elope with him, to the discomfiture of Olive and her fellow-feminists. The final sentence of the novel shows Verena in tears – not to be her last, James assures us.
Henry James was born in New York City on April 15, 1843, into a wealthy and intellectually stimulating family. His father, Henry James Sr., was a Swedenborgian philosopher and his mother, Mary Roberts...More on Henry James
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