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Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton, c. 1889
Born Edith Newbold Jones
(1862-01-24)January 24, 1862
New York
Died August 11, 1937(1937-08-11) (aged 75)
Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, designer
Spouse Edward Wharton (1885–1913)


Edith Wharton (; born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930.[1] Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and marriage 1.1
    • Travels and life abroad 1.2
    • Later years 1.3
    • Death 1.4
  • Writing career 2
  • Books 3
    • Novels and novellas 3.1
    • Poetry 3.2
    • Short story collections 3.3
    • Non-fiction 3.4
    • As editor 3.5
  • Adaptations 4
    • Cinema 4.1
    • TV 4.2
    • Theatre 4.3
  • In popular culture 5
  • References 6
    • Footnotes 6.1
    • Sources 6.2
  • Further reading 7
  • External links 8


Portrait of Wharton as a girl by Edward Harrison May (1870)

Early life and marriage

Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander at their brownstone at 14 West Twenty-third Street in New York City. She had two much older brothers, Frederic Rhinelander, who was sixteen, and Henry Edward, who was eleven. She was baptized April 20, 1862, Easter Sunday, at Grace Church.[2] To her friends and family she was known as "Pussy Jones".[3] The saying "keeping up with the Joneses" is said to refer to her father's family.[4] She was also related to the Rensselaer family, the most prestigious of the old patroon families. She had a lifelong friendship with her Rhinelander niece, landscape architect Beatrix Farrand of Reef Point in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Edith was born during the Civil War; she was three years old when the South surrendered. After the war, the family traveled extensively in Europe.[2] From 1866 to 1872, the Jones family visited France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.[5] During her travels, the young Edith became fluent in French, German, and Italian. At the age of ten, she suffered from typhoid fever while the family was at a spa in the Black Forest. After the family returned to the United States in 1872, they spent their winters in New York and their summers in Newport, Rhode Island.[5] While in Europe, she was educated by tutors and governesses. She rejected the standards of fashion and etiquette that were expected of young girls at the time, intended to enable women to marry well and to be displayed at balls and parties. She thought these requirements were superficial and oppressive. Edith wanted more education than she received, so she read from her father's library and from the libraries of her father's friends.[6] Her mother forbade her to read novels until she was married, and Edith complied with this command.[2]

Edith began writing poetry and fiction as a young girl. She attempted to write a novel at age eleven. Her first publication was a translation of the German poem, "Was die Steine Erzählen" ("What the Stones Tell") by Heinrich Karl Brugsch, which earned her $50. She was 15 at the time. Her family did not wish her name to appear in print because the names of upper class women of the time only appeared in print to announce birth, marriage, and death. Consequently, the poem was published under the name of a friend's father, E. A. Washburn. He was a cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson and supported women's education. He played a pivotal role in Edith's efforts to educate herself and he encouraged her ambition to write professionally.[7][8] In 1877, at the age of 15, she secretly wrote a 30,000 word novella "Fast and Loose". In 1878 her father arranged for a collection of two dozen original poems and five translations, Verses, to be privately published.[5][6] In 1880 she had five poems published anonymously in the Atlantic Monthly, then a revered literary magazine.[9] Despite these early successes, she was not encouraged by her family nor her social circle, and though she continued to write she did not publish anything again until her poem, "The Last Giustiniani", was published in Scribner's Magazine in October 1889.[10]

Edith was engaged to Henry Stevens in 1882 after a two year courtship. The month the two were to marry, the engagement abruptly ended.[11]

In 1885, at age 23, she married Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton, who was 12 years her senior. From a well-established Boston family, he was a sportsman and a gentleman of the same social class and shared her love of travel. From the late 1880s until 1902, he suffered acute depression, and the couple ceased their extensive travel.[12] At that time his depression manifested as a more serious disorder, after which they lived almost exclusively at their estate The Mount. In 1908 her husband's mental state was determined to be incurable. In the same year, she began an affair with Morton Fullerton, a journalist for The Times, in whom she found an intellectual partner.[13] She divorced Edward Wharton in 1913 after 28 years of marriage.[12] Around the same time, Edith was beset with harsh criticisms leveled by the naturalist writers.

In addition to novels, Wharton wrote at least 85 short stories.[6] She was also a garden designer, interior designer, and a taste-maker of her time. She wrote several design books, including her first published work, The Decoration of Houses (1897), co-authored by Ogden Codman. Another is the generously illustrated Italian Villas and Their Gardens of 1904.

Travels and life abroad

The Mount, 2006
Photographic portrait of Edith Wharton

Wharton made her first journey to Europe at the age of four, when her parents took her to Europe for six years. Her father loved traveling and it is thought that he passed on this wanderlust to his daughter. She would eventually cross the Atlantic sixty times.[14] In Europe, her primary destinations were Italy, France and England. She also went to Morocco in north Africa. She wrote many books about her travels, including Italian Backgrounds and A Motor-Flight through France.

Her husband, Edward Wharton, shared her love of travel and for many years they spent at least four months of each year abroad, mainly in Italy. Their friend, Egerton Winthrop, accompanied them on many journeys in Italy.[15] In 1888, the Whartons and their friend James Van Alen took a cruise through the Aegean islands. Wharton was 26. The trip cost the Whartons $10,000 and lasted four months.[16] She kept a travel journal during this trip that was thought to be lost but was later published as The Cruise of the Vanadis, now considered her earliest known travel writing.[17]

In 1902, Wharton designed George Washington Vanderbilt II.

Page from original manuscript of The House of Mirth, in Edith Wharton's hand

Wharton was preparing to vacation for the summer when

  • Edith Wharton Collection Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University
  • The Edith Wharton Papers at the Lilly Library, Indiana University
  • Edith Wharton Society
  • The Mount: Estate and gardens designed by Edith Wharton
  • Works by Edith Wharton at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Edith Wharton at Internet Archive
  • Works by Edith Wharton at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • Edith Wharton at C-SPAN's American Writers: A Journey Through History

External links

  • The Letters of Edith Wharton (R. W. B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis, eds.) ISBN 0-02-034400-7, particularly the editorial introductions to the chronological sections, especially for 1902–07, 1911–14, 1919–27, and 1928–37, and the editorial footnotes to the letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald (8 June 1925)
  • Novellas and Other Writings (Cynthia Griffin Wolff, ed.) (The Library of America, 1990) ISBN 978-0-940450-53-0, which contains her autobiography, A Backward Glance.
  • Twilight Sleep (R. F. Godfrey, ed.) ISBN 0-684-83964-4
  • Benstock, Shari (1994) No Gifts From Chance: a biography of Edith Wharton. New York: Scribner's ISBN 0-292-70274-4
  • Edith Wharton's French Riviera (2002) Philippe Collas and Eric Villedary, Paris, New York : Flammarion/Rizzoli (ISBN 2-84110-161-4)
  • Dwight, Eleanor. (1994) Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography New York: Harry N. Abrams.
  • Franzen, Jonathan (February 13–20, 2012). "A Critic at Large: A Rooting Interest".  
  • Lee, Hermione (2007) Edith Wharton. London: Chatto & Windus ISBN 0-7011-6665-7; New York: Knopf
  • Lewis, R. W. B. (1975) Edith Wharton: a biography New York: Harper & Row ISBN 0-06-012603-5
  • Lowry, Elizabeth (December 9, 2011). "What Edith Knew: Freeing Wharton from the Master's Shadow". Harper's Magazine 317 (1903): 96–100, 102. 
  • Montgomery, Maureen E. (1998) Displaying Women: Spectacles of Leisure in Edith Wharton's New York New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-90566-4
  • Wolff, Cynthia Griffin (1977) A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton Oxford. ISBN 0-19-502117-7
  • Wolff, Cynthia Griffin (1995) A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton, Second Edition. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-40918-6

Further reading

  • Davis, Mary Virginia (2007). "Edith Wharton". Magills Survey of American Literature (Salem Press). 
  • Marshall, Scott (1996). "Edith Wharton on Film and Television: A History and Filmography" (PDF). Edith Wharton Review (Washington State University) 13 (2): 15–25. Retrieved January 15, 2009. 


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Lee, Hermione. Edith Wharton. Random House, Inc.  
  3. ^ Lewis, R.W.B. (1975). Edith Wharton: A Biography (First ed.). Harper & Row, Publishers.  
  4. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton. New York: Scribner's. p. 26.  
  5. ^ a b c "Chronology". The Mount: Edith Wharton's Home. 
  6. ^ a b c Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Eighth ed.). W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.  
  7. ^ Carol Singley, What+the+Stones+Tell"+wharton&output=html_text&source=gbs_search_r&cad=1 A Historical Guide to Edith Wharton
  8. ^ . Benstock, Shari (1994)No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p.35. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  9. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994)No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p.38. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  10. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994)No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p.40. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
  11. ^ Lewis, R.W.B. (1975). Edith Wharton: A Biography (1st ed.). Harper & Row.  
  12. ^ a b c Davis 2007
  13. ^ "Edith Wharton's World, Portrait of People and Places".  
  14. ^ Wright, Sarah Bird, Editor (1995). Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920, p. xvii-xviii. New York, St. Martin's Griffin.
  15. ^ Wright, Sarah Bird, Editor (1995). Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920, p.3. New York, St. Martin's Griffin.
  16. ^ a b c d Lewis, R.W.B. Edith Wharton: A Biography (1st ed.). Harper & Row.  
  17. ^ Wright, Sarah Bird, Editor (1995). Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920, p.17. New York, St. Martin's Griffin
  18. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p.129-130. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  19. ^ Lewis, R.W.B. (1975). Edith Wharton: A Biography. Harper & Row, Publishers.  
  20. ^ Benstock, Shari (2004). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton. University of Texas Press. p. 143.  
  21. ^ Singley, Carol J. (2003). A Historical Guide to Edith Wharton. Oxford University Press. p. 238.  
  22. ^ Dwight, Eleanor (1994). Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.183. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  23. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.183-184. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  24. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.188-189. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  25. ^ Wolff, Cynthia Griffin(1995) A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton, Second Edition, p.253. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-40918-6.
  26. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.190. New York: Harry n. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  27. ^ Lee, Hermione (2007)Edith Wharton p. 486. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-40004-9
  28. ^ "In Argonne", Chapter 2 of Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort, published in Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920, p. 150. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-16120-4
  29. ^ Lee, Hermione (2007)Edith Wharton p. 454. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-40004-9
  30. ^ Wolff, Cynthia Griffin (1995) A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton, Second Edition, p.253. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-40918-6.
  31. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, pp.202-203. New York: Harry n. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  32. ^ Lee, Hermione (2007)Edith Wharton p. 450. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 978-0-375-40004-9.
  33. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.201. New York: Harry n. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  34. ^ Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life, An Illustrated Biography, p.210. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-3971-1
  35. ^ Wegener, Fredrick (December 2000). ""Rabid Imperialist"': Edith Wharton and the Obligations of Empire in Modern American Fiction". American Literature 72 (4): 783–812. 
  36. ^ Nelson, Randy F. (1981). The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc. p. 9.  
  37. ^ "Reader's Almanac: A Controversial Pulitzer Prize Brings Edith Wharton and Sinclair Lewis Together." Reader's Almanac: A Controversial Pulitzer Prize Brings Edith Wharton and Sinclair Lewis Together. Library of America, 28 June 2011. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
  38. ^ Judith E. Funston, "Edith Wharton", in American National Biography; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999; Vol. 23, pp. 111–112. ISBN 0-19-512802-8.
  39. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p. 86. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  40. ^ "Edith Wharton, 75, Is Dead in France." The New York Times, 13 Aug. 1937. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
  41. ^ "Edith Wharton, 75, Is Dead in France".  
  42. ^ Domaine du Pavillon Colombe à Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt (95)
  43. ^ Benstock, Shari (1994). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, p. 456. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  44. ^ Benstock, Shari(1994). No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  45. ^ Armitage, Robert. "Edith Wharton, A Writing Life: Childhood." Edith Wharton, A Writing Life: Childhood. New York Public Library, 6 May 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
  46. ^ WorldHeritage english / Joan_Crawford / Move to Warner Bros.
  47. ^ a b (1996): 15-25. Washington State University. 15 Jan. 2009Edith Wharton ReviewMarshall, Scott. "Edith Wharton on Film and Television: A History and Filmography."
  48. ^ National Library Of Australia / Catalogue / The House of Mirth: The Play of the Novel, Dramatized by Edith Wharton and Clyde Fitch, 1906; edited, with an introd., notes, and appendixes by Glenn Loney
  49. ^ / Works / The House of Mirth: The Play of the Novel, Dramatized by Edith Wharton and Clyde Fitch, 1906; edited, with an introd., notes, and appendixes by Glenn Loney



  • In The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Edith Wharton (Clare Higgins) travels across North Africa with Indiana Jones in Chapter 16, Tales of Innocence.
  • Edith Wharton is mentioned in the HBO television series Entourage in the third season's 13th episode: Vince is handed a screenplay for Wharton's The Glimpses of the Moon by Amanda, his new agent, for a film to be directed by Sam Mendes. In the same episode, period films of Wharton's work are lampooned by agent Ari Gold, who says that all her stories are "about a guy who likes a girl, but he can't have sex with her for five years, because those were the times!" Carla Gugino, who plays Amanda, was the protagonist of the BBC-PBS adaptation of The Buccaneers (1995), one of her early jobs.
  • "Edith Wharton's Journey" is a radio adaptation, for the NPR series Radio Tales, of the short story "A Journey" from Edith Wharton's collection The Greater Inclination.
  • The American singer and songwriter Suzanne Vega pays homage to Edith Wharton in her song "Edith Wharton's Figurines", from her studio album Beauty & Crime.

In popular culture

  • The House of Mirth was adapted as a play in 1906 by Edith Wharton and Clyde Fitch[48][49]
  • The Age of Innocence was adapted as a play in 1928. Katharine Cornell played the role of Ellen Olenska.


  • Ethan Frome, a 1960 (CBS) TV US adaptation, directed by Alex Segal, starring Sterling Hayden as Ethan Frome, Julie Harris as Mattie Silver and Clarice Blackburn as Zenobia Frome. First Wharton adaptation on television.
  • Looking Back, a 1981 TV US loose adaptation of two biographies of Edith Wharton: A Backward Glance, Wharton's own 1934 autobiography & Edith Wharton, a 1975 biography by R.W.B. Lewis (1976 Bancroft Prize-winner).
  • The House of Mirth, a 1981 TV US adaptation, directed by Adrian Hall, starring William Atherton, Geraldine Chaplin and Barbara Blossom
  • The Buccaneers, a 1995 BBC mini-series, starring Carla Gugino and Greg Wise[47]




Novels and novellas


  • Verses, 1878
  • Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse, 1909
  • Twelve Poems, 1926

Short story collections

  • The Greater Inclination, 1899
  • Souls Belated, 1899
  • Crucial Instances, 1901
  • The Descent of Man and Other Stories, 1904
  • The Hermit and the Wild Woman and Other Stories, 1908
  • Tales of Men and Ghosts, 1910
  • Xingu and Other Stories, 1916
  • Old New York, 1924
  • Here and Beyond, 1926
  • Certain People, 1930
  • Human Nature, 1933
  • The World Over, 1936
  • Ghosts, 1937
  • Roman Fever and Other Stories, 1964
  • "Madame de Treymes and Others: Four Novelettes", 1970
  • "The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton", 1973
  • "The New York Stories of Edith Wharton", 2007


  • The Decoration of Houses, 1897
  • Italian Villas and Their Gardens, 1904
  • Italian Backgrounds, 1905
  • A Motor-Flight Through France, 1908 (travel)
  • Fighting France, from Dunkerque to Belfort, 1915 (war)
  • French Ways and Their Meaning, 1919
  • In Morocco, 1920 (travel)
  • The Writing of Fiction, 1925 (essays on writing)
  • A Backward Glance, 1934 (autobiography)
  • Edith Wharton: The Uncollected Critical Writings, Edited by Frederick Wegener, 1996
  • Edith Wharton Abroad: Selected Travel Writings, 1888-1920, 1995, Edited by Sarah Bird Wright

As editor

  • The Book of the Homeless, 1916


Many of Wharton's novels are characterized by a subtle use of dramatic irony. Having grown up in upper-class, late-nineteenth-century society, Wharton became one of its most astute critics, in such works as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.

In 1901, Wharton wrote a two-act play called Man of Genius. This play was about an English man who was having an affair with his secretary. The play was rehearsed, but was never produced. She collaborated with Marie Tempest to write another play, but the two only completed four acts before Marie decided she was no longer interested in costume plays. One of her earliest literary endeavors (1902) was the translation of the play, Es Lebe das Leben ("The Joy of Living"), by Hermann Sudermann. The Joy of Living was criticized for its name because the heroine swallows poison at the end, was a short-lived Broadway production. It was, however, a successful book.[16]

In 1889, she sent out three poems for publication. They were sent to Scribner’s, Harper’s and Century. Edward L. Burlingame published “The Last Giustiniani” for Scribner’s. It was not until Wharton was 29 that her first short story was published. "Mrs. Manstey's View" had very little success, and it took her more than a year to publish another story. She completed "The Fullness of Life" following her annual European trip with Teddy. Burlingame was critical of this story but Wharton did not want to make edits to it. This story, along with many others, speaks about her marriage. She sent Bunner Sisters to Scribner’s in 1892. Burlingame wrote back that it was too long for Scribner’s to publish. This story is believed to be based on an experience she had as a child. It did not see publication until 1916 and is included in the collection called Xingu. After a visit with her friend, Paul Bourget, she wrote “The Good May Come” and “The Lamp of Psyche”. “The Lamp of Psyche” was a comical story with verbal wit and sorrow. After “Something Exquisite” was rejected by Burlingame, she lost confidence in herself. She started “travel writing” in 1894.[16]

Wharton first began inventing stories when she was six. She would walk around the living room holding a book while reciting her story. In 1873, Wharton wrote a short story and gave it to her mother to read. Her mother criticized the story, so Wharton decided to just write poetry. While she constantly sought her mother's approval and love, it was rare that she received either. From the start, the relationship with her mother was a troubled one.[45] Before she was fifteen, she wrote Fast and Loose (1877). In her youth, she wrote about society. Her central themes came from her experiences with her parents. She was very critical of her own work and would write public reviews criticizing it. She also wrote about her own experiences with life. “Intense Love’s Utterance” is a poem written about Henry Stevens.[16]

Despite not publishing her first novel until she was forty, Wharton became an extraordinarily productive writer. In addition to her fifteen novels, seven novellas, and eighty-five short stories, she published poetry, books on design, travel, literary and cultural criticism, and a memoir.[44]

Writing career

On June 1, 1937 Wharton was at the French country home of Ogden Codman, where they were at work on a revised edition of The Decoration of Houses, when she suffered a heart attack and collapsed.[39] Edith Wharton later died of a stroke on August 11, 1937 at Le Pavillon Colombe, her 18th-century house on Rue de Montmorency in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt. She died at 5:30 p.m., but her death was not known in Paris. At her bedside was her friend, Mrs. Royall Tyler.[40] The street is today called rue Edith Wharton.[41][42] Wharton was buried at the Cimetière des Gonards in Versailles, "with all the honors owed a war hero and a chevalier of the Legion of Honor....a group of some one hundred friends sang a verse of the hymn "O Paradise"...."[43] She is buried next to her long-time friend, Walter Berry, in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.[12]


What is most notable about A Backward Glance, however, is what it does not tell: her criticism of Lucretia Jones [her mother], her difficulties with Teddy, and her affair with Morton Fullerton, which did not come to light until her papers, deposited in Yale's Beinecke Rare Book Room and Manuscript Library, were opened in 1968.[38]

In 1934 Wharton's autobiography A Backward Glance was published. In the view of Judith E. Funston, writing on Edith Wharton in American National Biography,

Wharton was friend and confidante to many gifted intellectuals of her time: Henry James, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau and André Gide were all her guests at one time or another. Theodore Roosevelt, Bernard Berenson, and Kenneth Clark were valued friends as well. Particularly notable was her meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, described by the editors of her letters as "one of the better known failed encounters in the American literary annals". She spoke fluent French, Italian, and German, and many of her books were published in both French and English.

The Age of Innocence (1920) won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature,[36] making Wharton the first woman to win the award. The three fiction judges—literary critic Stuart Pratt Sherman, literature professor Robert Morss Lovett, and novelist Hamlin Garland—voted to give the prize to Sinclair Lewis for his satire Main Street, but Columbia University’s advisory board, led by conservative university president Nicholas Murray Butler, overturned their decision and awarded the prize to The Age of Innocence.[37]

Wharton's Le Pavilion Colombe, Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, France

Later years

During the post war years she divided her time between Hyères and Provence, where she finished The Age of Innocence in 1920. She returned to the United States only once after the war, to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University in 1923.

Wharton was a committed supporter of French imperialism, describing herself as a "rabid imperialist", and the war solidified her political views.[35] After the war she travelled to Morocco as the guest of Resident General Hubert Lyautey and wrote a book, In Morocco, about her experiences. Wharton's writing on her Moroccan travels is full of praise for the French administration and for Lyautey and his wife in particular.

Throughout the war she worked tirelessly in charitable efforts for tuberculosis hospitals. In 1915 Wharton edited The Book of the Homeless, which included essays, art, poetry and musical scores by many major contemporary European and American artists, including Henry James, Joseph Conrad, William Dean Howells, Anna de Noailles, Jean Cocteau and Walter Gay, among others. Wharton proposed the book to her publisher, Scribner's. She handled all of the business arrangements, lined up contributors, and translated the French entries into English. Theodore Roosevelt wrote a two-page Introduction in which he praised Wharton's effort and urged Americans to support the war.[31] She also kept up her own work during the war, continuing to write novels, short stories, and poems, as well as reporting for the New York Times and keeping up her enormous correspondence.[32] Wharton urged Americans to support the war effort and encouraged America to enter the war.[33] She wrote the popular romantic novel Summer in 1916, the war novella, The Marne, in 1918, and A Son at the Front in 1919, (though it was not published until 1923). When the war ended, she watched the Victory Parade from the Champs Elysees' balcony of a friend's apartment. After four years of intense effort, she decided to leave Paris in favor of the peace and quiet of the countryside. Wharton settled ten miles north of Paris in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt, buying an eighteenth-century house on seven acres of land which she called Pavillon Colombe. She would live there in summer and autumn for the rest of her life. She spent winters and springs on the French Riviera at Sainte Claire du Vieux Chateau in Hyeres.[34]

Aided by her influential connections in the French government, she and her long-time friend Walter Berry (then president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Paris), were among the few foreigners in France allowed to travel to the front lines during World War I. She and Berry made five journeys between February and August 1915, which Wharton described in a series of articles that were first published in Scribner's Magazine and later as Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort, which became an American bestseller.[27] Travelling by car, Wharton and Berry drove through the war zone, viewing one decimated French village after another. She visited the trenches, and was within earshot of artillery fire. She wrote, "We woke to a noise of guns closer and more incessant...and when we went out into the streets it seemed as if, overnight, a new army had sprung out of the ground".[28]


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