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(-: The Henry James E-Journal :-)Number 17
March 15, 2016
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More Than a 'Player':
James Brand Pinker and the Literary Estate of Henry James
by Kerry Sutherland , Ph.D.
When Henry James died in February 1916, his agent, James Brand Pinker, who had represented the author since 1898, took immediate steps to protect James's existing work and that which had yet to be published. James's sister-in-law Alice, his beloved brother William's widow, and in turn, her children, were granted James's property, including royalties, in his will and Mrs. James, satisfied with Pinker's handling of the author's affairs as much as she knew of them, kept him on as the literary agent of the estate, a role he continued to fulfill with the utmost regard for James's work, just as he had while the author still lived. Michael Anesko has noted the value of Pinker's work for the author in relation to James's difficulties with market forces in Friction With the Market. In Monopolizing the Master, Anesko has also explored Pinker's role as one of several 'players,' including members of James's family, Theodora Bosanquet, and Percy Lubbock, in the drama surrounding the efforts to publish James's work after his death, but this role feels like an aside, as if Pinker is working only in conjunction with the others. The depth of Pinker's role in James's literary affairs can be demonstrated further through the details found in his correspondence with editors, publishers, and James himself, highlighting his value to the author's career both before and after James's death; it is the latter that will be discussed herein.
When Pinker himself died of influenza in February 1922, the New York Times reported that "among the authors whom he represented in this country were Henry James, Joseph Conrad, John Galsworthy, Frank Swinnerton and Compton Mackenzie,"i and the London Daily Mail noted that "he was a close friend of Mr. Henry James."ii James died six years before Pinker and the other authors listed in the Times were very much alive, so the decision to place James's name first, along with the Mail claim that James was a friend rather than just a client speaks to Pinker's importance in James's life and the awareness of that relationship in the publishing world.
Henry James and James Brand Pinker seem an unlikely pair. The established middle-aged American author--long an expatriate living in England, France, and Italy--and the tough-minded Scottish literary agent appear to have little in common. Pinker's policy as outlined in the 1901 Literary Year-Book and Bookman's Directory was "of helping young authors in the early stages of their career, when they need most the aid of an advisor with a thorough knowledge of the literary world and the publishing trade."iii The directory entry fails to mention the agent's pursuit of authors with symbolic or cultural capital; James, of course, would have fallen into that category.
J.B., as he was known, had been in business as an agent only two years before James approached him, but he was quite busy from the start of his enterprise. In 1895 he left his position as editor of Pearson's Magazine and in January 1896 he wrote to H.G. Wells offering his services as a literary agent. One of Pinker's first clients, Wells was a problematic one because of his habit of placing his work rather wildly prior to Pinker's intervention. This issue foreshadowed a problem Pinker would have with James, although James's was of a greater magnitude.
Pinker would not accept a client in whom he did not believe and had an eye for talent that was a result of his days as a reader and an editor. His efforts went beyond financial reward; he wanted the work of his authors recognized for the genius he believed the authors to be. The personal financial stability gained upon his marriage to Mary Elizabeth Seabrooke, who brought money from her father's successful brewing business into the arrangement, years earlier made these convictions possible. He claimed to serve one master; his first and only allegiance was always to his client. By agreeing to represent an author, he made a statement of personal belief in the creative and financial possibilities of that author, and as such, was very discerning about choosing his clients, refusing material he felt he could not honestly represent. He was candid and aggressive, qualities that made some publishers uncomfortable and sometimes angry. Pinker's careful handling of his authors showed his concern for the sanctity of their craft and profession, and while he sometimes suggested revision or questioned suitability (only for authors who were agreeable to such advice; James was definitely not one), he did not believe that his job allowed him to advise authors as to the content of their work ("write what you want to write and don't worry. I'll sell it").iv
Around the time James died, Pinker was testifying on behalf of his client D.H. Lawrence concerning The Rainbow, which had been declared obscene in November 1915. Pinker was understandably furious that the publisher involved, Methuen, caved in to pressure from a British magistrate who actually had no legal authority to make such a decision, and destroyed 1011 copies of the book rather than support the author, who had Pinker's financial backing "pretty much on demand."v He also had taken on another controversial author, James Joyce, which would have added not only to his workload but his stress level, as Pinker corresponded with the author and potential publishers along with Joyce's New York lawyer, John Quinn, who was defending the serial publication of Ulysses. Pinker's emotional reaction to the Lawrence situation along with the death of one of his oldest clients most likely influenced his quick action on James's behalf soon after the author was buried. Edel notes that "the agent Pinker was aware of the way in which reputations can slip once a writer is dead; it was necessary to put the posthumous writing into print--the two unfinished novels, the autobiographical fragment, and finally the representative collection of the correspondence."vi On April 27, 1916, less than two months after James's death, Pinker contacted Scribner to discuss three unfinished works left by the author, The Sense of the Past, The Ivory Tower, and The Middle Years. He also mentioned "his Letters," with immediate concern for arrangements for the editing of the same, and asked for the publisher's suggestions on how to best handle the publication of the material, specifically so he could discuss any offers with the James family. Copies of the manuscripts were already being made, Pinker explained, so all would be ready when the details were finalized. These copies were being made by James's secretary, Theodora Bosanquet, who had worked for the author from 1907 until his death. She wrote Pinker four days after his letter to Scribner with concerns about the fate of the unfinished work, recognizing that it was Pinker who was at the bottom of protecting James's memory: "I have reason to believe that it is entirely owing to your suggestion that copies are being made at all, which is a fact that no one who cares for the preservation of his writings can be too grateful to you for."vii
Pinker's next missive to Scribner on June 15, 1916 included copies of the two incomplete novels and the letters along with a detailed description of their composition and his thoughts on how they ought to be published, with a sales pitch that displayed his intimate knowledge of James's work habits and his belief that there was, without a doubt, a market for the author's material based on the novelty of unfinished and revealing work by such a reserved figure. He offered "rough notes" for The Sense of the Past along with a "preliminary statement of the whole constructive idea, and another statement dealing with the plan for the novel [The Ivory Tower]" suggesting that both be published serially followed by book publication that would include the working material, not only to satisfy "natural curiosity as to the development of the stories, but for the reason that they are extremely fascinating to all who are interested in Mr. James' methods of work. Mr. James, as you know, never took the public into his confidence in the popular sense and revealed his methods."viii A little over a month later, on July 25, Edward Burlingame wrote to settle the matter of the autobiographical piece,The Middle Years , "which had interested us very much and with regard to which we should be glad to make you a proposition for the Magazine--of course assuming the book use later in some form on the usual terms" but was noncommittal regarding the novels, claiming that the house had not yet decided how best to handle them. He offered $250 for "two very interesting and successful articles" made from Middle, to be published in early 1917. He agreed with Pinker about the importance of the unpublished material: "We are of course sincerely interested, as you are, in keeping Mr. James's work together and in seeing what he has left used to the best advantage."ix Using the work to the best advantage for Mrs. James was what the agent had in mind when he composed his response on August 7, asking for £100 (about $475) per article, to which the publisher cabled on August 30: "Think our offer adequate but will give Three Hundred Dollars each for two articles."x Pinker replied the next day in agreement, without consulting Mrs. James, taking the higher sum although it was lower than his suggestion, and in turn received a promise to publish not only the two articles but also the entirety of the material as a volume. His authority in such matters, whether given explicitly by Mrs. James or implied, was clear. The articles were published in Scribner's Magazine in October and November 1917, concurrent to the book issue. Payment of $600 as offered by the publisher was received and acknowledged by Pinker on November 17, 1916. In the letter that accompanied the check, Burlingame confirmed the expectation of book publication, assuring Pinker that "we shall be very glad to undertake the book issue."xi
Pinker took several weeks to respond, with good reason and a push to settle the matter of the unfinished novels in the manner he had originally suggested. He had been discussing the editing of the same with Percy Lubbock, a friend and admirer of James and a writer in his own right, who was unable as yet to determine anything about the handling of the author's correspondence, but would be able to write "a short note" for each novel about its origin. In a December 21 letter, Pinker asserted that each novel should be published as its own volume, with Lubbock's notes as well as those of James on the development of each: "I think published in that way they would be valued by everyone who was interested in Henry James's method of work."xii Burlingame, however, did not agree, and his answer, which came two months later, stated that the two should be issued in one volume, with "some editorial accompaniment" and "could be called by some title showing that it contained Mr. James's unfinished work." He did agree to Pinker's request for the usual 20% royalty, but to the agent's question of an advance ("I find it difficult to suggest what would be appropriate in the way of advance") he did not believe that "we should be asked for an advance in this case."xiii Pinker knew that an advance was unnecessary, as unnecessary now as it had been vital while the author was living, and did not press the point. The contracts he drafted and sent to Burlingame on April 3, however, detailed his own expectations for the production of the novels as noted in his own letter, disregarding the editor's thoughts, reiterating that each book should be its own volume, claiming that the composition sketches would add enough to the length of each to make them substantial: "I have had a cable from Mrs. William James entirely approving this plan, and I feel sure that you too will approve it."xiv He could not possibly be sure, as Burlingame had stated less than two months earlier that he certainly did not approve. "We are still inclined to think that publication of the two in one volume will be the most practicable shape for us," the editor explained in his May 9 response, but was more forceful on another matter he had brought up earlier that made no appearance in the Pinker draft. He wanted to be sure that Lubbock's editing fee would be split between Scribner's and the English publisher, and that was a point that had to be made in the contract before he would sign. The publication date would become an issue only because of the American involvement in the war, and the coming publishing season would be, to put it mildly, "uncertain."xv He did expect that it would be put off from the autumn but believed the following year would be possible. Pinker revised the contracts to please Burlingame on account of the editing fee and returned them, with Mrs. James's signature, to the editor on July 24, 1917. The Sense of the Past and The Ivory Tower were published in separate volumes, identical in appearance, on October 17, 1917, despite the editor's warning about the probability of delayed publication, primarily because both novels were also published in England by Collins on September 6, 1917.
Pinker had been corresponding with William Collins & Sons regarding an English edition of the works to be published by Scribner's and made arrangements that were acceptable to Alice James, who wrote the agent on April 15, 1917: "It seems to be a very advantageous arrangement. I am thankful to have the books well made, 'well produced' as you say."xvi The Scottish publisher specialized in religious and educational texts but with the promotion of Godfrey Collins delved into fiction in 1917 with James, the "Grand Literary Panjandrum" who had "enjoyed great prestige" followed by "public indifference."xvii Collins editor Gerald O'Donovan was considerate of his American counterpart and the need to provide proofs for their use as soon as possible, assuring Pinker on June 7, 1917 that the material would be in his hands by the end of that month to pass along to Scribner's, making a fall publication on both sides of the Atlantic possible. Burlingame was not pleased with these plans and wrote the agent on June 21 about the war concerns while noting that simultaneous publication was "essential for all reasons; so that the decision of the English publishers virtually forces us to issue the books in the autumn also." While the editor was unhappy with this turn of events, he was even more worried about the fate of the articles from The Middle Years, which could not be published in the magazine until the fall: "We shall rely upon you to safeguard us with the English publishers."xviii Collins was to publish the autobiographical work as well, and releEngland before the American serial would be a death-dealing blow to any profit for Scribner's. Burlingame seemed to believe that Pinker should be acting on behalf of Scribner's, when the agent was not and never had been in the business of 'safeguarding' publishers. He was, in all cases, his author's agent, and would continue to be so during this transaction. Pinker responded to Burlingame's concerns with contracts on July 24, Lubbock's completed prefaces in August, and beginning that same month, corrected proofs from Collins for all three titles. Publication of the novels is previously noted; The Middle Years was published by Collins on October 18 while Scribner's printed from copies sent by Pinker two weeks prior to produce the American edition on November 23. On February 12, 1918 Pinker had to remind Scribner's of their obligation to Lubbock: "I shall be very much obliged if you will let me have a cheque for the fee due to Mr. Percy Lubbock in payment of his work of editing the Henry James books."xix A check was sent on March 19.
Six weeks later, the agent offered Scribner's another opportunity to print James, with previously published articles on war collected in a volume entitled Within the Rim, for which Pinker had made arrangements with Collins to publish that autumn. He explained that the material was gathered at the "request of many friends" and were "the last things that Mr. James wrote, and the only written comments that he has left on the War, so that they will have permanent interest for his friends."xx This began a series of correspondence that revealed either hesitation or disinterest on the part of the publisher. Pinker gave Scribner's the price that Collins was asking for providing the sheets for American printing, but Burlingame was concerned because he did not know what the list price would be for the book in England, and as a result, whether the asking price for sheets was reasonable based on the list amount. He also wanted Collins to pay the royalties to the James estate for any American sales. Collins agreed to this stipulation, and Pinker gave the editor the price of the book, but Burlingame was still unsatisfied, finally reaching his point of contention at the end of his last correspondence on the matter. On December 23, 1918 he claimed that the "little collection of war papers" was "attended with difficulties," and the price he would have to ask American readers to pay would be extravagant for such a small volume, if it were to be of any profit: "Now that the war is over and there has come decided reaction against war books, the outlook even for the Henry James collection of war papers is not particularly encouraging."xxi Within the Rim was published in the United Kingdom in March 1919; Scribner's refusal meant that no American edition would follow.
Pinker's April 27, 1916 letter in which he presents James's unfinished work to Scribner made brief mention that "there will be besides these his Letters." No further notice of these letters came from the agent, who was occupied with the novels and autobiography; nearly seven months later, on November 17, Burlingame, concerned by information gleaned from correspondence with the author's nephew, wrote Pinker to inquire about them: "what we hear from London friends of Mr. James (and here since Mrs. William James's return) seems to show that the matter of the Letters has been arranged with Mr. Percy Lubbock."xxii He was concerned that he had not been made aware of developments regarding the letters, although the house had expressed interest in them as a collection and wanted to use them in their magazine as well. Pinker explained that there was nothing to report regarding the letters, hence his silence. Lubbock was busy with work on the novels, and would be for some time, and on December 21 Pinker told Burlingame that Lubbock "tells me that it is too early yet to say anything usefully definite as to the Letters."xxiii
Five months later, on May 31, 1917, the agent wrote Burlingame as if Scribner's had not expressed a definite interest in the letters, possibly to let him know that there might be competition (although there is no evidence of any) if negotiations did not go as Pinker saw fit: "I have had a proposal this morning from America for the publication of the Letters, first in magazine and afterwards in volume form. The proposal is not a detailed one, and I am simply postponing the matter, but I shall be glad if you and Mr. Scribner will consider the question of publishing some of the correspondence in the magazine."xxiv The tone of Pinker's missive must have set Burlingame understandably on edge, but resulted in the definite agreement to publish that Pinker was after, one that included magazine publication. On June 21 Burlingame insisted: "you know of course from our repeated inquiries that we are looking forward with warmest interest to having their publication in book form; and we will willingly say definitely what in our November letter we mentioned our hope to arrange, that we will make a proposal to publish some considerable portion of them in the Magazine." He again expressed his hope that the publisher could "rely on your not making any arrangements elsewhere until the whole matter shall have been fully discussed between us."xxv Nearly two years passed before the letters became an object of concern once again, after Lubbock had finished his work on them and Pinker had made arrangements with Macmillan to publish the English edition. Pinker wrote Scribner's on June 24, 1919 to explain an unforeseen delay caused by a mishap the letters had suffered during travels with James's nephew (the family had insisted on examining the material before publication; for more on this, see Monopolizing the Master) during which "some of the chapters have gone astray and I am now compelled to wait until I can get a set of proofs from Macmillans."xxvi Burlingame seemed to take the news well, writing to Pinker that he was looking forward to receiving the proofs, but he wrote in turn to Macmillan on July 11 with a complaint about the delay, asking the English publisher to "send copies of any preliminary announcements you are making with regard to the book."xxvii Frederick Macmillan agreed to send one of the announcements after it had been drawn up and supported Pinker's claim about the delay in providing proofs against Burlingame's complaint, assuring him on July 28 that they would be sent along "as soon as they have been corrected by the Editor, Mr. Percy Lubbock."xxviii
Macmillan had wanted to publish the letters that fall but understood that the approval of all the parties involved, after Lubbock's work was complete, might cause further delay, writing Pinker on September 3: "I presume that Mr. Lubbock will not pass them for press until he is satisfied that Mrs. James passes them. It certainly looks as if it may be necessary to hold the book over until the turn of the year, but I hope that this will not be so."xxix The completed proofs of the first volume, passed by Lubbock, made their way to Macmillan and finally to Scribner's in the middle of November; Macmillan had yet to inform the American publisher of the price and date of publication, but assured Scribner's that they would do so "later on."xxx While Scribner's attempted to obtain proofs and information from Macmillan, Pinker was arranging with Scribner for the articles based on the letters, suggesting on October 2,1919 that Edmund Gosse would be well suited to the work, in his own opinion and that of James's nephew, "since from his long friendship with Mr. Henry James he would have resources to draw upon apart from the Letters."xxxi Pinker sent the first article to Scribner on December 8, 1919, asking when the publisher intended to print it. The December 30 reply indicated that Scribner had either misunderstood or forgotten the details of the October letter, particularly that of Gosse's ability to write about James outside of the information in the letters: "While we appreciate the skill with which Mr. Gosse has prepared his first article, we are frankly disappointed that it contains so little in the way of extracts and material from the remarkable letters." They had "expected the letters of Henry James with comments by Mr. Gosse"xxxii and the second article, sent less than a month later, met their satisfaction. Payment of £100 was sent to Pinker for Gosse, the agreed upon amount.
Pinker continued to have difficulty reaching terms with Scribner's; the contract with Macmillan had been settled over six months before he wrote to Scribner's on January 23, 1920 asking for an agreement, as Macmillan had sent proofs and was asking for March publication. If this was not possible, Macmillan "thought it would not matter their being a little ahead of you," but if Scribner's considered "it important that the two editions should be simultaneous I shall be glad if you will cable so that I can stop Macmillans."xxxiii Whether Pinker would have actually made an effort to change the English publication date to suit Scribner's is unlikely, but his need to finalize the financial end of the transaction satisfactorily led him to make the situation as agreeable to Scribner's as possible, even if it meant extending an offer he would not be able or willing to deliver. Macmillan contacted Scribner's less than a week later on January 29 to inform them of their intentions: "We propose to publish the book here on Tuesday, March 9th, and trust that this date will not be inconvenient to you."xxxiv Macmillan changed the date on February 10, less than two weeks later: "We find however that this date will be inconvenient and we shall therefore postpone the appearance of the book until Friday, April 9th, a date which we trust will be convenient to yourselves."xxxv This letter crossed one from Scribner's to Pinker on February 11 regarding the first date: "Agree to simultaneous publication of James book March twenty-sixth immediately after appearance of first Gosse article."xxxvi This one crossed, in turn, one from Pinker to Scribner's on February 12 regarding the revised dates: "Sir Frederick Macmillan has fixed April 9th for the publication here of the Henry James Letters. He tells me that from the correspondence he has had with you he is sure that you can copyright by then."xxxvii Scribner's settled the matter with a cable to Macmillan on February 26: "Agree to April ninth simultaneous publication James Letters."xxxviii
Pinker was still waiting on an agreement with terms for the letters, which now had a definite publication date in both countries that was exactly a month away when the American publisher cabled the English one to obtain their price in order to arrive at an offer for Pinker. On April 1, a week before publication, Pinker's son Eric sent a contract to Scribner: "I have drafted the agreement for the Henry James letters [standard 20%] and have pleasure in sending it to you, herewith."xxxix The letters were published by Macmillan on April 8 and Scribner's on April 9; the contract was signed by Scribner's and returned to the agent on April 21.
While James was living, Pinker had considered the publication of another collected edition, one that might sell better than the New York Edition by virtue of a lower price. He contacted Scribner's on August 25, 1915 to see if they had any objections; more likely than not, he was actually concerned about any legal barriers to this plan and informing the publisher ahead of time would reveal any issues before he began to work on it. He had not yet brought the idea to James's attention but was acting of his own accord, explaining to Scribner that "it is only an idea of mine" and he "imagined that that would not interfere with your sales." He had "not mentioned the matter to Mr. James because I did not know whether it were possible or advisable."xl Before the agent returned to the idea of a 'new' collected edition after the author's death, he approached Scottish publisher Thomas Nelson and Sons on March 22, 1917 about issuing several James titles, which was what the August 1915 letter to Scribner described, albeit as a set. Nelson was interested in Roderick Hudson, Daisy Miller, The Bostonians, The Princess Casamassima, The Tragic Muse, and The Madonna of the Future; they were concerned, however, with the variety of publishers involved in the original production of these titles, and asked if Pinker would supply copies of each from which they would print their own. Pinker was happy to oblige, and having already been through the drama of securing permissions for the New York Edition, reassured Nelson, and their edition was printed from 1918-1920.
The agreement with Nelson complete, Pinker moved on to present the notion of a 'popular' edition to Macmillan before returning to Scribner on August 28, 1919, telling the American publisher that Macmillan would include all the volumes in the New York Edition as well as others thought "desirable." He asked for Charles Scribner's "views on the subject" as well as his interest in issuing the set in America, which would, in the agent's estimation, be offered fifty cents cheaper per volume than the New York Edition: "It would involve making fresh arrangements with the publishers who are interested in the Henry James books in America, but I wanted to ascertain your views before going any further."xli Pinker did not seem to be concerned about the 'fresh arrangements' and after all, he had been through the process before and knew now what to expect and how to handle it. His expression of interest in Scribner's 'views' was not necessarily sincere; the agreement with Macmillan was signed by Alice James and returned on September 10, 1919, before Scribner responded to Pinker's August letter. The correspondence from Macmillan to Scribner during this time makes no mention of the popular edition, either because the focus of the communication was the James letters or because Pinker suggested discretion on Macmillan's part.
Scribner's seemed amenable to the plan and open to printing an American edition if Macmillan agreed to make it worth their while financially, as they had invested a great deal of time and effort into their New York Edition, which all involved knew did not sell well. Supplying the English publisher with sheets or duplicate plates was one way to recoup some of their costs, and if Macmillan were open to an offer for the use of the same, Scribner's indicated on September 17 that they "should be favorable to bringing out such a new edition particularly if our plates can be used as we are suggesting."xlii Unfortunately, Macmillan was not interested in using the New York Edition plates and on October 3 gave his reasons to Pinker, listing the size of the page as well as the use of books not included in the New York Edition as prohibitions to an agreement. Scribner's had addressed the page size in their offer, claiming that the "type-page could be used on a very much smaller book" so Macmillan's protest seems like an effort to find an excuse to refuse, rather than outright stating that he did not want to pay Scribner's, much as Scribner had made negotiations difficult for Pinker in regard to Within the Rim based on disinterest. Three days after Macmillan wrote Pinker, the agent passed the news on to Scribner, repeating Macmillan's concerns and rather obnoxiously, asking Scribner if the publisher would want to "approach the other publishers regarding permissions, or for me to do so?"xliii Scribner's held firm to the use of their plates as a prerequisite to obtaining their blessing and participation in the edition in their response on November 24, and of course, told Pinker to do the work of gathering permissions for an American edition himself. They were worried about the use of the New York Edition prefaces as well, as "they were of course written for the New York Edition and we think they should only be used in connection therewith." The cheaper edition might be "directly competitive" with the older issues of the books, Scribner's warned, and the original publishers "might wish to hold us up for a considerable payment"xliv for such reason.
Scribner's appealed directly to Macmillan on January 2, 1920 regarding the James letters and made mention of the popular edition to see how the project stood, as they had not received a reply to their last letter to Pinker of November 1919, noting that the agent had informed them that the use of their plates "seemed impossible." On January 16, Macmillan maintained a short and firm refusal: "We are obliged to you for your offer of the plates of your New York Edition of Mr. Henry James's novels for use in printing our contemplated Collected Edition. We regret to say however that we cannot avail ourselves of it."xlv The American publisher finally revealed their main concern and objection to the edition, which was no surprise but could have been set forth more directly from the beginning of the conversation but was overshadowed by the possibility that they might profit by Macmillan's use of the plates. The English publisher's refusal to cooperate with Scribner's on the matter pushed Scribner's to come clean about their fears on April 2: "I think it would be distinctly injurious to the New York Edition if a more complete uniform edition of the fiction were issued through the trade." Adding to the New York Edition, as Macmillan wished to add titles not included in that edition to the cheaper one, was something Scribner's was open to discussing, but mention of such a collaboration had not been made. The whole matter, Scribner's reminded Pinker, "depends on the consent of other publishers."xlvi
The tables turned the next month when Frederick Macmillan discovered that there was an arrangement made by Pinker that might affect his plans to publish James and wrote on May 10 to ask the agent's assistance to maintain what he believed was an exclusive right to the work: "I am rather concerned to see in 'The Publisher's Circular' of last week an advertisement of a cheap edition of Henry James's Roderick Hudson to be published by Nelsons." He asked Pinker to "look into this matter at once,"xlvii unaware that the agent himself had been a party to the Nelson publication. Pinker's interest was, as always, limited to the James estate and did not extend to acting on Macmillan's behalf unless the estate stood to benefit. The Nelson negotiations had taken place in early 1917, and the Macmillan primarily in 1919, the latter without knowledge of the Nelson agreement. Eleven years earlier, on March 18, 1909, Frederick Macmillan had written James in response to the author's request that The American be allowed print in Nelson's Sevenpenny Library: "We will voice no objection to the publication."xlviii His blessing clearly did not extend to other titles over a decade later. Pinker's answer to Macmillan's query brought more concerns forth from the publisher, who was "rather horrified" in his letter of May 19 to be informed that at least six of James's "best books" would be published by Nelson: "It seems to us to alter the whole complexion of our own enterprise in the Henry James domain."xlix The complexion, as it were, of the popular edition was unaltered, however, and while Scribner's refused to participate with an American edition, Macmillan published The Stories and Tales of Henry James between January 1921 and November 1923. Whatever obstacles had been set before him, Pinker fulfilled his idea of a cheaper collected edition that was initially considered in 1915, an endeavor he had originally contemplated without the author's knowledge or consent.
Acting on his own was clearly something Pinker believed part of his job, and while James had been interested to an extent in the business dealings he was content to allow his agent to manage without his approval to specifics unless a problem arose; this, in Pinker's estimation, was to be avoided at nearly all costs. Alice James entrusted Pinker quite as much, in her letter of December 21, 1919, allowing the agent to "decide such applications, always from the standpoint of the author's interest. I feel sure that you and I are agreed in considering all such attempts to 'produce' Henry James solely form the point of view of his own interest. I mean that I would not allow his work to be treated as insignificant."l Her trust in Pinker was a reflection not only of her brother-in-law's experience with him but her own as well. There is no mention of money in her letter; her reliance on the agent is specific as to the treatment of James's work as valued material worth perpetuating. She knew that Pinker would continue to strive to keep the author's work in print for the right price, a price based not on her desires but on the merit of the work. Her regard for Pinker was based on his own for James's work, which was demonstrated as he continued to negotiate with and between publishers for the best placement of the author's unpublished work after his death, serving the memory and legacy as well as he had the man.
When Pinker died in 1922, six years after James, he had spent the last twenty-four years of his life in the service of at least seventy-five authors. His dedication to James in particular, which was rivaled only by his attention to Joseph Conrad and Stephen Crane insofar as difficulty of their personalities and work habits, resulted in the publication of eight James novels, several collections of short stories and essays, three autobiographical volumes, over sixty contributions to periodicals, and the New York Edition. Even after the author's death, the agent continued to fulfill the wishes of the estate and James's heir, Alice James, in presenting unfinished material left by the author along with repackaged titles in the best manner possible, as Mrs. James was concerned primarily that her brother in law's work would be well produced and respected. Henry James's approach to Pinker in 1898, and the agent's decision to "bet on the side of literature" knowing that this prospective client was on popular decline, forged the business relationship that would keep James writing and his continued work in print for the rest of his life and Pinker's thereafter.
i "James B. Pinker Dies Here." New York Times (10 Feb. 1922): 13.
ii "Literary Agent's Death." Daily Mail (10 Feb. 1922): 5.
iii "Agents - James B. Pinker." Literary Year-Book and Bookman's Directory (1901) 118.
iv The Bookman (May 1922) 274.
v Mary Ann Gillies, The Professional Literary Agent in Britain: 1880-1920. (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2007) 101.
vi Leon Edel, Ed. Henry James, Letters: 1843-1875 (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1974) xx.
vii Henry James Collection.
viii Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
ix Henry James Collection.
x Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
xvii David Keir, The House of Collins (London: Collins, 1952) 236.
xviii Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
xxix Henry James Collection.
xxx Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
xxxii Henry James Collection.
xxxiii Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
xl James B. Pinker and Son: Collection of Papers, 1893-1940.
xli Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons.
xlvi Additional Letters Concerning the James Family.
xlvii James B. Pinker and Son: Collection of Papers, 1893-1940.
xlix Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections.
l Additional Letters Concerning the James Family.
"Agents -- James B. Pinker." Literary Year-Book and Bookman's Directory 1901. 118
Anesko, Michael. Friction with the Market: Henry James and the Profession of Authorship. New York: Oxford UP, 1986.
Anesko, Michael. Monopolizing the Master: Henry James and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2012.
Archives of Charles Scribner's Sons, 1786-2003. Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library.
The Bookman (death of J.B. Pinker, sons to carry on business) May 1922: 274-275.
Edel, Leon, ed. Henry James, Letters: 1843-1875. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1974.
Gillies, Mary Ann. The Professional Literary Agent in Britain: 1880-1920. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2007.
Henry James Collection. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
James B. Pinker Additional Letters Concerning the James Family. MS Am 2540. Houghton Library, Harvard University.
James B. Pinker and Son: Collection of Papers, 1893-1940. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, The New York Public Library.
"James B. Pinker Dies Here." New York Times 10 Feb. 1922: 13
Keir, David. The House of Collins. London: Collins, 1952.
"Literary Agent's Death." (London) Daily Mail 10 Feb. 1922: 5
Pinker, James B. Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections. Northwestern University Library.