Who was Edith Wharton? Information About the Life and Works of an American Woman Author


Who was Edith Wharton? Information about the life, literary personality and works of Edith Wharton, an American writer, social activist and designer.

Edith Wharton

Source : wikipedia.org

Edith Wharton (New York, January 24, 1862 – Saint Brice-sous-Forêt, France, August 11, 1937) was an American writer and designer. She was born into a wealthy family that provided her with a solid private education. She combined her privileged position with natural dexterity to write novels and stories that stand out for their humor, sharp characters, and narrative inertia. She has also worked in various publications she.

The first years

In 1885, at the age of 23, Edith married Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton, who was twelve years her senior. They divorced in 1913 due to her husband’s repeated infidelities that affected her mentally and physically. For several years, at the end of her turbulent and unhappy marriage, she had an affair with William Morton Fullerton (1865–1952), an American journalist working for The Times.

Critical achievements and the First World War

Since the late 19th century, Wharton has produced numerous novels, travel books, short stories (including some haunting ghost stories), and poems. In 1902, he published a historical novel called El valle de la decision (The Valley of Decision). Critics consider it his first major novel, The House of Joy (The House of Mirth, 1905), an ironic story about the New York financial aristocracy of which he was a prominent member. Edith Wharton was such a huge fan of European culture and architecture that she had to cross the Atlantic a total of 66 times before she died.

In 1907 he settled permanently in France, where he became a student and friend of Henry James. He first settled in Paris, and from 1919 on two cottages called the Pavilion Colombe in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt and the former abbey of Sainte-Claire le Château in Hyères in southeastern France. Ethan Frome’s novel, a tragic love story between ordinary people set in New England, published in 1911, was written during this period. In the view of many critics, this book, because of its simplicity, achieves a universality that his society novels lack.


He was living on Rue de Varenne, a very popular spot in Paris when World War I began, and using his high links with the French Government, he obtained permission to ride a motorcycle on the front lines. Wharton described this experience in a series of articles later collected in Fighting France: From Dunkirk to Belfort (1915).

During the war, he also worked for the Red Cross with refugees, for whom the French government gave him the cross of the Legion of Honor. His social work was extensive, with Wharton running study rooms for unemployed women, giving concerts to train musicians, supporting tuberculosis hospitals, and founding American Hostels to help Belgian refugees. In 1916 he edited a volume entitled El libro de los sin techo (The Book of the Homeless), which brought together writing, illustrations and scores from some of the biggest names in artistic creation of the time. At the end of the war, he returned to the United States, despite having said in the past that he would never set foot again.

While not part of the author’s refined world, Edith Wharton was fascinated and fought for recognition by the artistic community of Montmartre and Montparnasse. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1926) and the National Institute of Arts and Letters she. The United States government awarded her the National Institute’s gold medal in 1924, and she was the first woman to achieve such an feat.

Final Years

His best-known work is The Age of Innocence (1920), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. Since Edith Wharton spoke French fluently during those years, most of her books were published in both English and French. She became the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University in 1923. She was the friend and confidant of many intellectuals of her time. Henry James, Francis Scott Fitzgerald, Jean Cocteau and Ernest Hemingway were occasional guests. She was also a good friend of the reformer President Theodore Roosevelt .

Edith Wharton was also widely respected in her time as a landscape designer and style consultant and wrote some seminal books on the subject, such as Decorating Homes and Italian Villas. His property in Mount, Lennox, Massachusetts was designed personally by the author. She continued to write until her death on August 11, 1937, in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt in the Île-de-France region near Paris. She is buried in the Gonards Cemetery in Versailles, she.

His last novel, Las bucaneras (The Buccaneers), was left unfinished when he died. Marion Mainwaring finished the story after carefully reviewing Wharton’s notes and summary. The novel was published in its incomplete version in 1938 and in its final version in 1993.

Literary Style

One of the features of many of his novels is the frequent use of irony. Raised in the upper class of pre- World War I society, Wharton became one of its most insightful critics. In some of his works, such as The House of Joy or The Age of Innocence, he skillfully used irony to show the narrow-mindedness and ignorance of high society.


In their ritual practices and customs, Wharton would use the vocabulary and diction specific to this New York social class as a source to demonstrate the authenticity of their existence. The personal knowledge he had about precisely this social group made his fiction writings almost essays on the uses and customs of a section of society that remained hidden from the general public. Of course, his writings have great psychological depth in the portrayal of his characters, especially when a good coolness indicated they needed to be silenced, and Wharton’s literary prowess opened their minds to readers.



1900 – Touchstone
1902 – Valley of Decision
1903 – Sanctuary
1905 – House of Joy
1907 – Fruit of the tree
1907 – Madame de Treymes
1911 – Ethan Frome
1912 – Reef
1913 – Country customs or National customs
1916 – Bunner Sisters
1917 – Summer
1918 – Marne
1920 – Age of Innocence
1922 – Reflections of the Moon
1923 – Ahead Son
1925 – Resignation (Mother’s Reward)
1927 – The Twilight Sleep
1928 – Children
1929 – Hudson River Bracket
1932 – The Gods Have Arrived
1938 – Quick and Loose
1938 – Pirates. After her death and unfinished work, a finished version of Marion Mainwaring came out in 1993.

Short story and novel collections

1899 – The Great Trend
1901 – Highlights
1904 – The Descent of Man and Other Stories
1908 – The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories
1910 – Tales of Men and Ghosts
1916 – Xingu and Other Stories
1926 – Here and Beyond
1924 – Old New York
1930 – Some People
1933 – Human Nature
1936 – On Earth
1937 – Ghosts


1934 – Looking Back

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