Henry James, “John Delavoy” (1898)

The narrator is a writer: it’s Henry James, sort of. John Delavoy is a famous writer who’s just died. Miss Delavoy’s his sister. Mr. Beston on publishes the Cynosure, a trendy literary magazine. The narrator wrote a piece about the late Delavoy that he wants placed in Beston’s magazine. He comes to know Miss Delavoy, and like her. But Beston doesn’t like the essay, it’s too literary, too revealing of the actual substance of Delavoy’s work. Beston calls it “indecent.” He is more interested in gossip, “personal” stuff, and in a portrait by Miss Delavoy of her brother, which she produces but then asks to have returned once she learns Beston is refusing to run the narrator’s piece, out of fear, ostensibly, of losing 5,000 subscribers, a figure that soon rises to 10,000. He is “the mighty editor.” Beston refuses to return the portrait or to run the essay. The portrait is published, the issue sells hugely. The narrator places his piece elsewhere, and marries Miss Delavoy.

Cosmopolitan, January-February 1898