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.
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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.
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Signed, First Editions by Edith Wharton|
|The Decoration of Houses, 1897|
|The Greater Inclination, 1899|
|The Touchstone, 1900|
|Crucial Instances, 1901|
|Valley of Decision, 1902|
|Descent of Man and Other Stories, 1904|
|Italian Villas and Their Gardens, 1904|
|Italian Backgrounds, 1905|
|The House of Mirth, 1905|
|Madame de Treymes, 1907|
|A Motor-Flight through France, 1908|
|Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories, 1908|
|Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse, 1909|
|Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910|
|Ethan Frome, 1911|
|The Custom of the Country, 1913|
|The Reef, 1913|
|Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort, 1915|
|The Marne, 1918|
|French Ways and Their Meaning, 1919|
|The Age of Innocence, 1920|
|In Morocco, 1920|
|The Glimpses of the Moon, 1922|
|A Son at the Front, 1923|
|Old New York, 1924|
|The Mother's Recompense, 1925|
|The Writing of Fiction, 1925|
|Twilight Sleep, 1927|
|The Children, 1928|
|Hudson River Bracketed, 1929|
|The Gods Arrive, 1932|
|A Backward Glance, 1934|
|The Buccaneers (unfinished), 1938|
|Fast and Loose, 1977|
|The Edith Wharton: The Uncollected Critical Writings, 1997|