The illegitimate and impoverished son of a dressmaker and a nobleman, Hyacinth Robinson has grown up with a strong sense of beauty that heightens his acute sympathy for the inequalities that surround him. Drawn into a secret circle of radical politics he makes a rash vow to commit a violent act of terrorism. But when the Princess Casamassima - beautiful, clever and bored - takes him up and introduces him to her own world of wealth and refinement, Hyacinth is torn. He is horrified by the destruction that would be wreaked by revolution, but still believes he must honour his vow, and finds himself gripped in an agonizing and, ultimately, fatal dilemma. A compelling blend of psychological observation, wit and compassion, The Princess Casamassima (1886) is one of Henry James's most deeply personal novels.
Henry James was born in 1843 in New York and died in London in 1916. In addition to many short stories, plays, books of criticism, autobiography and travel, he wrote some twenty novels, the first published being Roderick Hudson (1875). They include The Europeans, Washington Square, The Portrait of a Lady, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, The Spoils of Poynton, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors and The Golden Bowl.