1915 – Henry James becomes a British citizen to highlight his commitment to Britain during the first World War.
Henry James, OM (15 April 1843 – 28 February 1916) was an American-born British writer. He is regarded as one of the key figures of 19th-century literary realism. He was the son of Henry James, Sr. and the brother of philosopher and psychologist William James and diarist Alice James.
He is best known for a number of novels showing Americans encountering Europe and Europeans. His method of writing from a character’s point of view allowed him to explore issues related to consciousness and perception, and his style in later works has been compared to impressionist painting. His imaginative use of point of view, interior monologue and unreliable narrators brought a new depth to narrative fiction.
James contributed significantly to literary criticism, particularly in his insistence that writers be allowed the greatest possible freedom in presenting their view of the world. James claimed that a text must first and foremost be realistic and contain a representation of life that is recognisable to its readers. Good novels, to James, show life in action and are, most importantly, interesting.
In addition to his voluminous works of fiction he published articles and books of travel, biography, autobiography, and criticism, and wrote plays. James alternated between America and Europe for the first twenty years of his life; eventually he settled in England, becoming a British subject in 1915, one year before his death. James was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911, 1912, and 1916.
1862 – Ida B. Wells, American journalist and activist (d. 1931)
Ida Bell Wells-Barnett (July 16, 1862 – March 25, 1931), more commonly known as Ida B. Wells, was an African-American journalist, newspaper editor, suffragist, sociologist, feminist, Georgist, and an early leader in the Civil Rights Movement. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909.
Wells was born in Holly Springs, Mississippi. She lost her parents and a sibling in the 1878 yellow fever epidemic at a young age. She went to work and kept the rest of the family intact with the help of her grandmother. She moved with some of her siblings to Memphis, Tennessee where she found pay better for teachers.
In the 1890’s, Wells documented lynching in the United States. She showed that lynching was often used in the South as a way to control or punish Black people who competed with whites, rather than being based on criminal acts by black people, as was usually claimed by whites. She was active in women’s rights and the women’s suffrage movement, establishing several notable women’s organizations. Wells was a skilled and persuasive rhetorician and traveled internationally on lecture tours.