Edith Wharton wrote about the lives and customs of nineteenth-century New York gentry as only an insider to their society could. Her elegant tales of elite ladies and gentlemen who worship at the alter of social propriety and who are bound by traditional social mores shimmer with the rich sheen of America's gilded age and its values. Although Wharton's novels provide vintage snapshots of America's aristocracy, they are timeless in their dignified and sympathetic portrayal of characters shaped, and often crushed, by the expectations of their social class. The Custom of the Country and Other Classic Novels features three of Wharton's best-loved works: The House of Mirth. Raised to marry into wealth, Lily Bart is ill-equipped to navigate a world in which rumors of impropriety stain her life indelibly with the stigma of scandal. The Custom of the Country. Valuing social status over matters of the heart, Undine Spragg embarks on a series of dissatisfying marriages made to improve her standing in society. The Age of Innocence. Wharton's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel tells of gentleman lawyer Newland Archer, who sacrifices his good reputation and all he holds dear when he becomes infatuated with Countess Ellen Olenska, his finacee's scandal-plagued cousin.
About the Author
Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was the youngest child of a New York family descended from "old money." Her privileged upbringing included years of travel in Europe which helped to shape the aesthetic sensibilities that would inform muuch of her writing. Her first book, a collection of poetry, was published anonymously when she was sixteen. Her second book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), co-written with architect Ogden Codman, Jr., established her reputation as a knowledgeable writer on classical style and design. Wharton began publishing short fiction in 1891. Her first novel, The Valley of Indecision, appeared in 1902. Over the next three decades she produced a body of work notable for its portrayal of aristocratic characters and their struggle to reconcile personal interests and passions with the expectations created by wealth, class, and social custom. Her best-known novels include The House of Mirth (1905), Ethan Frome (1911), and The Custom of the Country (1913). In 1921, Wharton beca,me the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize, for her novel The Age of Innocence (1920). She lived her final years in Europe and was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor for her services to France during World War I.
Date of Birth:January 24, 1862
Date of Death:August 11, 1937
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France
Education:Educated privately in New York and Europe