One of Wharton’s lesser known works.

Did you know that besides writing the American classics, The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton penned over 40 books in her lifetime and was the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize? That she was not only a celebrated author, but a prominent architect and designer as well? That she was also a trailblazing humanitarian and animal activist? That her closest friends and relatives included the likes of Henry James and Theodore Roosevelt? That she earned such a handsome income from her writing that she eventually supported her husband with her earnings? And that she accomplished all this despite being born into a strict family during the rigid Victorian period? Talk about a true pioneer!

 She is survived by a niece, Mrs. Max Ferrard, wife of a noted historian.

Since that time she had written other books, including "Twilight Sleep," a story of fashionable life in modern New York; "The Children," a study of the children of expatriated divorcees; "Hudson River Bracketed," a study of a modern writer, and "Certain People," a collection of short stories.


Edith Wharton’s impressive library.

Edith Wharton’s bedroom at The Mount where she wrote The House of Mirth and Ethan Frome.

Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones on Jan. 24, 1862. Her father was George Frederick Jones; her mother was the former Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander, and back of each were Colonial and Revolutionary ancestors. When she was 4 the family went abroad in pursuit of culture, health and economy, for her father's inherited funds had not increased during the Civil War that was just ended.


Edith Wharton and the Marriage Plot | critiqueen5

In 1899 Mrs. Wharton--she had been married to Edward Wharton, a Boston banker, in 1885-- published her first book: "The Greater Inclination." In this may be found two of her best short stories, , "The Pelican" and "Souls Belated." This volume did not make her a wide reputation overnight. In fact, it was not until 1905 that she gained a large public, although in the interim there had appeared these books: "The Touchstone," "Crucial Instances," "The Valley of Decision" and "The Descent of Man and Other Stories," and her flare for travel books had asserted itself in two volumes on Italy, its villas and gardens.

Jan 22, 2014 · Wharton was not lucky in love

But it was Henry James who was her closest friend and most worth-while advocate. She was always his respectful disciple and, although in their many meetings he disguised the severity of his judgments with his usual elaborate verbal courtesies, he managed to convey the meaning of his criticism. He remained her close friend until his death.

Short Stories & Anthologies

"Ethan Frome," which was most successfully dramatized two seasons ago, was written in 1911. In it she most successfully blended the psychological refinements she had learned from Henry James with her own inimitable ability to tell a story with a beginning and an end. One critic has said it is comparable only to the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne as a tragedy of New England life. A novelette, it is considered a masterpiece of love and frustration, and is likely to stand, despite its comparative brevity, as her most accomplished work.

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Until 1906 Mrs. Wharton had divided her time between New York and her Summer home at Lenox, Mass. In that year she went to live in France, in Summer at Saint Brice and in Winter at Hyeres in Provence.