Public Faces, Private Lives
Text from Improper Bostonians


The relationship between Alice James (1848-1892) and Katharine Peabody Loring (1839-1943) was one of the most celebrated Boston marriages. Alice, the sister of Harvard psychologist William James and novelist Henry James, was of a "frail" constitution. She first met Katharine Loring in 1873; by 1879 the two were Inseparable. Katharine Loring was everything to Alice James, according to one of her biographers - "man and woman, father, and mother, nurse and protector, intellectual partner and friend."

Of his sister's relationship with Loring, Henry James, wrote, "A devotion so perfect and generous ... was a gift so rare ... that to brush it aside would be almost an act of impiety. In Alice and Katharine, James found a model for the feminist characters in The Bostonians.

Photo: Alice James (reclining) and Katharine Loring, taken at
the Royal Leamington Spa (England), c. 1890.