The Bostonians

The Bostonians

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140437669
  • 480 Pages
  • Penguin Classics
  • Adult


‘There was nothing weak about Miss Olive, she was a fighting woman, and she would fight him to the death’


Basil Ransom, an attractive young Mississippi lawyer, is on a visit to his cousin Olive, a wealthy feminist, in Boston when he accompanies her to a meeting on the subject of women’s emancipation. One of the speakers is Verena Tarrant, and although he disapproves of all she claims to stand for, Basil is immediately captivated by her and sets about ‘reforming’ her with his traditional views. But Olive has already made Verena her protégée, and soon a battle is under way for exclusive possession of her heart and mind. The Bostonians is one of James’s most provocative and astute portrayals of a world caught between old values and the lure of progress.

Richard Lansdown’s introduction discusses The Bostonians as James’s most successful political work and his funniest novel. This edition contains extracts from Tocqueville and from James’s ‘The American Scene’, which illuminate the novel’s social context. There are also notes and a bibliography.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.


“As devastating in its wit as it is sharp in its social critique of sexual politics. No writer in America had dared the subject before. No one has done it so well since.” —The New Republic
PRH Book Clubs Survey