The definitive biography of the fascinating William James, whose life and writing put an indelible stamp on psychology, philosophy, teaching, and religion—on modernism itself.
Often cited as the “father of American psychology,” William James was an intellectual luminary who made significant contributions to at least five fields: psychology, philosophy, religious studies, teaching, and literature.
A member of one of the most unusual and notable of American families, James struggled to achieve greatness amid the brilliance of his theologian father; his brother, the novelist Henry James; and his sister, Alice James. After studying medicine, he ultimately realized that his true interests lay in philosophy and psychology, a choice that guided his storied career at Harvard, where he taught some of America’s greatest minds. But it is James’s contributions to intellectual study that reveal the true complexity of man.
In this biography that seeks to understand James’s life through his work—including Principles of Psychology, The Varieties of Religious Experience, and Pragmatism—Robert D. Richardson has crafted an exceptionally insightful work that explores the mind of a genius, resulting in “a gripping and often inspiring story of intellectual and spiritual adventure” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
“A magnificent biography.” —The Washington Post
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; September 2007
- ISBN 9780547526737
- Read online, or download in secure EPUB format
- Title: William James
- Author: Robert D. Richardson
Imprint: Mariner Books
In The Press
“A biographical study of the highest order . . . [that I] will recall vividly for years to come.” —Jay Parini, author of One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner
“To read Richardson’s William James is to share this brilliant American philosopher’s wild ride down ‘the great river of mind.’” —Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters
“This book is a gift of magic. . . . The powerful and various mind of William James is returned to us, alive.” —Tracy Kidder
“Wonderful . . . a treat . . . In Robert D. Richardson, James has a kindred spirit.” —Robert Stone
“A stunning book, eloquent, learned, ebullient and fully commensurate with its impassioned subject . . . Every unerring, brilliant page is a gift.” —Brenda Wineapple, author of Hawthorne: A Life and Sister Brother: Gertrude & Leo Stein
About The Author
Robert D. Richardson is the author of Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind and Emerson: The Mind on Fire. He is the recipient of the Francis Parkman Prize, the Frederic G. Melcher Book Award, and the Bancroft Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, among many other honors.