Researching a Timeless Tale

The Turn of the Screw

Jonathan Warren ’84, associate professor and former chair of the York University Department of English in Toronto, Canada, has edited a new and expanded Norton Critical Edition of Henry James’ gothic novella The Turn of the Screw(W.W. Norton 2021). His first encounter with James’ work was in HCHS classes with Rose-Marie Laster who, along with Gloria Pages, Parker Baratta, Helene Levi-Smith, and Jane Lewis, made a life long impression.

In his novella, James tells the story of a governess who takes on the care of two orphans at a remote manse in the English countryside. A series of supernatural events occur at the estate, and she comes to believe that the children are being haunted by the ghosts of their former governess and valet. First published in 1898, the novella has been popular with several generations of audiences and has inspired a number of adaptations. Last year, it served as the inspiration for the second season of Netflix’s hit ‘The Haunting’ anthology series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, as well as The Turning, a film directed by Floria Sigismondi.

Norton Critical Edition is a well known resource to students, instructors, and scholars, featuring a three part format of annotated text, contexts, and criticism. Warren’s authoritative edition of The Turn of the Screw includes explanatory notes, contextual history, and an expansive critical introduction. 

The product of more than three years of work, research for the edition was conducted at Yale University, Harvard University, Dartmouth College, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Duke University, Colby College, the Hill-Stead Museum, the University of California Los Angeles, the New York Public Library, the University of Toronto, and York University.