Edith Wharton was an American novelist, poet and short story writer whose works display a mastery over the realistic fiction genre. Although she grew up in a world of refined manners and fashionable people, she was also aware of its superficiality, a theme that frequently appeared in her fiction. She began writing short stories and poetry at a young age, impressing such literary figures as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Dean Howells. Her stories range widely from powerful social commentary to titillating ...
Edith Wharton was an American novelist, poet and short story writer whose works display a mastery over the realistic fiction genre. Although she grew up in a world of refined manners and fashionable people, she was also aware of its superficiality, a theme that frequently appeared in her fiction. She began writing short stories and poetry at a young age, impressing such literary figures as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Dean Howells. Her stories range widely from powerful social commentary to titillating ghost stories that made Wharton extremely popular beyond her living years. This collection contains: "Madame de Treymes": a novella that depicts the sharp contrasts between French and American values; "The Touchstone": a story about greed, betrayal and ultimately, forgiveness; "Sanctuary": Wharton's investigation of the psychological forces that drive a person, and her critique of nature versus nurture; and "Bunner Sisters": a dark story of two sisters whose lives are corrupted by the dark, impoverished world outside their small, New York shop.
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, for The Age of Innocence. Born in 1862 into one of New York's older and richer families, she was educated here and abroad. Her works include Ethan Frome, The Reef, The Custom of the Country, The Glimpses of the Moon, and Roman Fever and Other Stories. As a keen observer and chronicler of society, she is without peer. Edith Wharton died in France in 1937.
Edith Newbold Jones was born January 24, 1862, into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses." The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family's return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith's creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.
After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton's novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton's first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable Literary Success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton's reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.
In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.
The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 -- the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.
Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Age of Innocence.
Good To Know
Upon the publication of The House of Mirth in 1905, Wharton became an instant celebrity, and the the book was an instant bestseller, with 80,000 copies ordered from Scribner's six weeks after its release.
Wharton had a great fondness for dogs, and owned several throughout her life.