Henry James's Autobiography recalls a first vision of “vast portentous London” in 1855, and contrasts brother William's boredom to his own imaginative response to the city (Small Boy 157, 170–71). Having moved there, he feels that amid the “London scene” he can fully exercise his “intellectual curiosity,” feeding “on the great supporting and enclosing scene itself” (Middle Years 553, 564). A later announcement to William Dean Howells that “henceforth I must do, or half do, England in fiction” comes as no surprise (Letters 284). James would follow up his intention in half-a-dozen novels, gradually refining the treatment of broad aesthetic, moral, and political issues in The Tragic Muse and The Princess Casamassima to a more specific “form of social-scientific inquiry” into characters and their interactions (Mizruchi 119). The novels written during the last years of Victoria's reign — The Spoils of Poynton, What Maisie Knew, The Awkward Age, and The Sacred Fount — convey perceptions of crumbling social values, “the lost sense, the brutalized manner” (James, Notebooks 196), through close analysis of individuals' speech, actions, motives, and relationships. Indeed, James held that wider trends were summed up by the differences between the personal traits of Victoria and her heir. After the old queen's death, he voiced misgivings in various letters: whereas she had been “a kind of nursing mother of the land and of the empire,” Edward was “an arch-vulgarian,” whose accession seemed bound to bring “vulgarity and frivolity” (qtd. in Edel 2: 426). The tone is first gloomy, “It's a new era — and we don't know what it is,” and later resigned: “We live notoriously, as I suppose every age lives, in an ‘epoch of transition’ ” (Preface, Awkward Age 12). A strong conviction that personal and social behavior influence and signify each other informs such comments.