(1862 – 1937)
Edith Wharton (born Edith Newbold Jones; New York, NY, USA, January 24, 1862 – Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France, August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer.
Many of Wharton’s novels are characterized by a subtle use of dramatic irony. Having grown up in upper-class pre-World War I society, Wharton became one of its most astute critics, in such works as The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1920), which won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature, making Wharton the first woman to win the award. Her claustrophobic 1911 novel Ethan Frome, which was inspired by a newspaper article, reflected Wharton’s feelings about her own marriage, which at the time was seriously deteriorating.
In addition to writing several respected novels, Wharton produced a wealth of short stories and is particularly well regarded for her ghost stories. She was also a garden designer, interior designer, and taste-maker of her time. She wrote several design books, including her first published work, The Decoration of Houses of 1897, co-authored by Ogden Codman. Another is the generously illustrated Italian Villas and Their Gardens of 1904.
Wharton was friend and confidante to many gifted intellectuals of her time: Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau and André Gide were all guests of hers at one time or another. Theodore Roosevelt, Bernard Berenson, and Kenneth Clark were valued friends as well. But her meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald has been described by the editors of her letters as one of the better known failed encounters in the American literary annals. She spoke fluent French (as well as several other languages), permanently moved to France in 1911, and many of her books were published in both French and English. Throughout WWI she worked tirelessly in charitable efforts for refugees and, in 1916, was named a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour in recognition of her commitment to the displaced. Beginning in Wharton’s own lifetime, her works have also repeatedly been adapted for the screen by notable directors and actors; most notably so the highly acclaimed novels Ethan Frome, The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.
Major Awards and Honors
Pulitzer Prize (USA)
- 1921: Fiction – “The Age of Innocence”
National Institute of Arts and Letters (USA)
- 1926: Elected to membership
American Academy of Arts and Letters
- 1929: Gold Medal
Légion d’Honneur (France)
- 1915: Chevalier de la Légion
Novels and Novellas
- The Touchstone (1900)
- The Valley of Decision (1902)
- Sanctuary (1903)
- The House of Mirth (1905)
- Madame de Treymes (1907)
- The Fruit of the Tree (1907)
- Ethan Frome (1911)
- The Reef (1912)
- The Custom of the Country (1913)
- Summer (1917)
- The Marne (1918)
- The Age of Innocence (1920)
- The Glimpses of the Moon (1922)
- A Son at the Front (1923)
- Old New York (1924)
- False Dawn
- The Old Maid
- The Spark
- The New Year’s Day
- The Mother’s Recompense (1925)
- Twilight Sleep (1927)
- The Children (1928)
- Hudson River Bracketed (1929)
- The Gods Arrive (1932)
- The Buccaneers (1938)
– Left unfinished at Wharton’s death; completed by Marion Mainwaring and published posthumously in 1993.
- Fast and Loose (1977)
– Published posthumously.
- Library of America: Edith Wharton – Novels (1986)
- Library of America: Edith Wharton – Novellas and Other Writings (1990)
- Library of America: Edith Wharton – Four Novels (1996)
- The House of Mirth
- Ethan Frome
- The Custom of the Country
- The Age of Innocence
- The Greater Inclination (1899)
- The Muse’s Tragedy
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1899).
- A Journey
- The Pelican
- Souls Belated
- A Coward
- The Twilight of the God
- A Cup of Cold Water
- The Portrait
- The Muse’s Tragedy
- Crucial Instances (1901)
- The Duchess at Prayer
- The Angel at the Grave
- The Recovery
- Copy: A Dialogue
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1900).
- The Rembrandt
- The Moving Finger
- The Confessional
- The Descent of Man, and Other Stories (1904)
– Unless noted otherwise, originally published in Harper’s Monthly (1902 – 1904).
- The Descent of Man
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1904).
- The Other Two
– Originally published in Collier’s Weekly (1904).
– Republished in Cosmopolitan (1908).
- The Lady’s Maid’s Bell
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1902).
- The Mission of Jane
- The Reckoning
- The Letter
- The Dilettante
- The Quicksand
- A Venetian Night’s Entertainment
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1903).
- The Descent of Man
- The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories (1908)
– Unless noted otherwise, originally published in Scribner’s (1904, 1906 & 1908).
- The Hermit and the Wild Woman
- The Last Asset
- In Trust
– Originally published in Appleton’s Booklovers Magazine (1906).
- The Pretext
- The Verdict
- The Pot-Boiler
- The Best Man
– Originally published in Collier’s (1905).
- Tales of Men and Ghosts (1910)
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1908 – 1910). Afterward and The Letters originally published in Century Magazine (1910).
- The Bolted Door
- His Father’s Son
- The Daunt Diana
- The Debt
- Full Circle
- The Legend
- The Eyes
- The Blond Beast
- The Letters
- Xingu and Other Stories (1916)
- Xingu (Scribner’s, December 1911)
- Coming Home
- Autre Temps …
– Originally published in Century (1911).
– Originally published in Scribner’s (1916).
- The Long Run
- The Triumph of Night
- The Choice
- Bunner Sisters
– Novella written 1892; remained unpublished for 24 years.
- Here and Beyond (1926)
- Miss Mary Pask
- The Young Gentlemen
- The Seed of the Faith
- The Temperate Zone
- Velvet Ear Pads
- Certain People (1930)
- A Bottle of Perrier
- After Holbein
- Dieu d’Amour
- The Refugees
- Mr. Jones
- Human Nature (1933)
- Her Son
- The Day of the Funeral
- A Glimpse
- Joy in the House
- The World Over (1936)
- Charm Incorporated
- Pomegranate Seed
- Permanent Wave
- Roman Fever
- The Looking Glass
- Ghosts (1937)
- All Souls (1937)
– Last completed story; published posthumously.
- The Best Short Stories of Edith Wharton (1958)
- Collected Short Stories (1968)
- The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton (1973)
- Roman Fever and Other Stories (1981)
- Ethan Frome and Other Short Fiction (1987)
- The Stories of Edith Wharton (1990)
- The Selected Short Stories of Edith Wharton (1991)
- The Muse’s Tragedy and Other Stories (1992)
- Souls Belated and Other Stories (1993)
- Wharton’s New England: Seven Stories and Ethan Frome (1995)
- The Collected Stories of Edith Wharton (1998)
- Library of America: Edith Wharton – Collected Stories (2001)
– 2 volumes: 1891 – 1910 and 1911 – 1937.
- The Ghost-Feeler: Stories of Terror and the Supernatural (2003)
- The Early Short Fiction of Edith Wharton (2003)
- Verses (1878)
- Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse (1909)
- The Joy of Living
(Es Lebe das Leben! (1902), play by Hermann Sudermann)
Essays, Travel Sketches, Memoir, Correspondence and other Nonfiction
- A Tuscan Shrine (1895)
- The Decoration of Houses (1897)
– With Ogden Codman, Jr.
- Italian Villas and Their Gardens (1904)
- Italian Backgrounds (1905)
- A Motor-Flight Through France (1908)
- Fighting France from Dunquerque to Belforte (1915 & 1918)
- French Ways and their Meaning (1919)
- In Morocco (1920)
- The Writing of Fiction (1925)
- A Backward Glance (1934)
- The Letters of Edith Wharton (1988)
- Henry James and Edith Wharthon: Letters 1900 – 1915 (1990)
- Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings (1995)
- The Cruise of the Vanadis (2001)
- An Edith Wharton Treasury (1950)
- Edith Wharton Reader (1965)
- Edith Wharton Omnibus (1978)
- Edith Wharton: Great Classic Library (1994)
- The Portable Edith Wharton (2003)
Online editions of Edith Wharton’s works:
A Selection of Quotes
The Age of Innocence
“The real loneliness is living among all these kind people who only ask one to pretend!”
- The Edith Wharton Society
- The Yale University Beinecke Library Edith Wharton Collection
- The Mount: Edith Whaton’s Home (Lenox, MA)
- Edith Wharton’s biography at the Kirjasto Authors’ Calendar
- Edith Wharton at Britannica.com
- Reviews and blog posts related to Edith Wharton on this blog, Lioness at Large