Further to my post about the day of Henry James, here's an interesting piece by Colm Tóibín on one of James's many writer friends, Edith Wharton. It centres on her estate, The Mount, and on the passion she and James shared for one Morton Fullerton. But the friendship between her and James is also prominent:
James grew to admire her and wonder at her energy. He also adored her car, a black Pope-Hartford helmed by her chauffeur, Charles Cook. During a heat wave on one of his stays at The Mount, the only relief James found was in "incessant motoring." They motored, Wharton wrote, "daily, incessantly, over miles and miles of lustrous landscape lying motionless under the still glaze of heat. While we were moving he was refreshed and happy, his spirits rose, the twinkle returned to his lips and eyes."
James had reasons to be jealous of Wharton not only because of the nights she spent with Fullerton but because of her popularity as a writer. When she mentioned that she had bought a luxurious new car with her royalties, James remarked drily that all he had managed from the proceeds of his novel The Wings of the Dove was the purchase of a small wheelbarrow. "It needs a coat of paint," he wrote to her. "With the proceeds of my next novel I shall have it painted."
Nice one, Henry.