This is a historical critique of Henry James in relation to nineteenth-century feminism and women's fiction. Habegger has brought to light extensive new documentation on James's tangled connections with what was thought and written about women in his time. The emphasis is equally on his life and on his fictions. This is the first book to investigate his father's bizarre lifelong struggle with free love and feminism, a struggle that played a major role in shaping James. The book also shows how seriously he distorted the truth about the cousin, Minnie Temple, whose self-assertive image inspired him; and how indebted he was to certain American women writers whom he attacked in reviews but whose plots and heroines he appropriated in his own fiction.