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Edith Wharton was a woman of extreme contrasts; brought up to be a leisured aristocrat, she was also dedicated to her career as a writer. She wrote novels of manners about the old New York society from which she came, but her attitude was consistently critical. Her irony and her satiric touches, as well as her insight into human character, continue to appeal to readers today. As a child, Wharton found refuge from the demands of her mother's social world in her father's library and in making up stories. Her marriage at age 23 to Edward ("Teddy") Wharton seemed to confirm her place in the conventional role of wealthy society woman, but she became increasingly dissatisfied with the "mundanities" of her marriage and turned to writing, which drew her into an intellectual community and strengthened her sense of self. After publishing two collections of short stories, The Greater Inclination (1899) and Crucial Instances (1901), she wrote her first novel, The Valley of Decision (1902), a long, historical romance set in eighteenth-century Italy. Her next work, the immensely popular The House of Mirth (1905), was a scathing criticism of her own "frivolous" New York society and its capacity to destroy her heroine, the beautiful Lily Bart. As Wharton became more established as a successful writer, Teddy's mental health declined and their marriage deteriorated. In 1907 she left America altogether and settled in Paris, where she wrote some of her most memorable stories of harsh New England rural life---Ethan Frome (1911) and Summer (1917)---as well as The Reef (1912), which is set in France. All describe characters forced to make moral choices in which the rights of individuals are pitted against their responsibilities to others. She also completed her most biting satire, The Custom of the Country (1913), the story of Undine Spragg's climb, marriage by marriage, from a midwestern town to New York to a French chateau. During World War I, Wharton dedicated herself to the war effort and was honored by the French government for her work with Belgian refugees. After the war, the world Wharton had known was gone. Even her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Age of Innocence (1920), a story set in old New York, could not recapture the former time. Although the new age welcomed her---Wharton was both a critical and popular success, honored by Yale University and elected to The National Institute of Arts and Letters---her later novels show her struggling to come to terms with a new era. In The Writing of Fiction (1925), Wharton acknowledged her debt to her friend Henry James, whose writings share with hers the descriptions of fine distinctions within a social class and the individual's burdens of making proper moral decisions. R.W.B. Lewis's biography of Wharton, published in 1975, along with a wealth of new biographical material, inspired an extensive reevaluation of Wharton. Feminist readings and reactions to them have focused renewed attention on her as a woman and as an artist. Although many of her books have recently been reprinted, there is still no complete collected edition of her work. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from The Age of Innocence… (more)
The Age of Innocence 13,442 copies, 296 reviews
The House of Mirth 9,426 copies, 195 reviews
Ethan Frome 9,257 copies, 209 reviews
The Custom of the Country 2,294 copies, 68 reviews
Summer 2,057 copies, 68 reviews
The Buccaneers 1,284 copies, 23 reviews
The Glimpses of the Moon 972 copies, 27 reviews
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton 864 copies, 26 reviews
The Reef 791 copies, 15 reviews
Old New York 654 copies, 15 reviews
Roman Fever and Other Stories 562 copies, 14 reviews
The Children 477 copies, 11 reviews
Ethan Frome and Selected Stories 474 copies, 2 reviews
Twilight Sleep 372 copies, 9 reviews
Madame de Treymes 370 copies, 8 reviews
The Mother's Recompense 332 copies, 7 reviews
The Decoration of Houses 311 copies, 6 reviews
The Touchstone 305 copies, 14 reviews
Ethan Frome / Summer 286 copies, 8 reviews
Bunner Sisters 280 copies, 22 reviews
In Morocco 235 copies, 5 reviews
Short Stories 217 copies, 3 reviews
Hudson River Bracketed 214 copies, 3 reviews
The Fruit of the Tree 173 copies, 5 reviews
The Writing of Fiction 173 copies, 6 reviews
The Old Maid 150 copies, 7 reviews
The Reckoning 150 copies, 4 reviews
Sanctuary 145 copies, 7 reviews
A son at the front 137 copies, 7 reviews
Souls Belated 118 copies, 4 reviews
The Gods Arrive 113 copies, 2 reviews
Xingu 106 copies, 17 reviews
Afterward [short fiction] 88 copies, 3 reviews
A motor-flight through France 85 copies, 1 review
Tales of Men and Ghosts 77 copies, 2 reviews
French Ways and Their Meaning 76 copies, 1 review
Ghosts 76 copies
Italian Backgrounds 70 copies, 1 review
The Valley of Decision 69 copies, 3 reviews
The Edith Wharton omnibus 69 copies, 3 reviews
The Stories of Edith Wharton 68 copies, 1 review
Edith Wharton: Selected Poems 59 copies, 2 reviews
The Greater Inclination 40 copies, 1 review
The Letters [short story] 38 copies, 2 reviews
The Vice of Reading 34 copies, 1 review
The Marne 34 copies, 2 reviews
The Hermit and the Wild Woman 33 copies, 2 reviews
New Year's Day 31 copies, 1 review
The Eyes 27 copies, 3 reviews
The Works of Edith Wharton 22 copies, 1 review
21 Essential American Short Stories (Contributor) 21 copies, 1 review
The World Over 20 copies
The Other Two 18 copies, 2 reviews
Here and Beyond 18 copies
Xingu and Other Stories 17 copies, 2 reviews
Kerfol 16 copies, 1 review
Roman Fever [short story] 14 copies, 1 review
Selected Poems of Edith Wharton 14 copies, 2 reviews
Certain People 13 copies
Coming Home 12 copies
Human Nature 11 copies
The Choice 11 copies
The Long Run 10 copies, 1 review
The Old Maid [1939 film] (Author) 9 copies
Her Son 8 copies
The House Of The Dead Hand 7 copies, 4 reviews
Best of Women's Short Stories, Volume 3 (Contributor) 7 copies, 2 reviews
Mr. Jones 6 copies, 1 review
Autres Temps 5 copies
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A Journey 3 copies, 1 review
After Holbein 3 copies
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Estiu 2 copies
TREASURY 2 copies
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Au temps de l'innocence 1 copy, 1 review
Cuentos 1 copy
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A book of quotations 1 copy, 1 review
Der Unfall 1 copy
Pelikan 1 copy
50 Great Short Stories (Contributor) 1,197 copies, 7 reviews
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 1,166 copies, 21 reviews
The Crack-Up (Contributor) 897 copies, 10 reviews
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (Contributor) 722 copies, 3 reviews
The Dark Descent (Contributor) 693 copies, 13 reviews
The Book of Fantasy (Contributor) 580 copies, 13 reviews
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Contributor) 531 copies, 7 reviews
Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature (Contributor) 485 copies, 8 reviews
Great American Short Stories (Contributor) 483 copies, 2 reviews
American Gothic Tales (Contributor) 434 copies, 5 reviews
Fifty Great American Short Stories (Contributor) 415 copies, 3 reviews
Great Short Stories by American Women (Contributor) 397 copies, 5 reviews
Women & Fiction: Short Stories By and About Women (Contributor) 358 copies, 7 reviews
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 311 copies, 18 reviews
Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 292 copies, 3 reviews
A Treasury of Short Stories (Contributor) 286 copies
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 272 copies, 4 reviews
The Treasury of American Short Stories (Contributor) 262 copies, 1 review
Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers (Contributor) 186 copies, 1 review
Stories to Remember {complete} (Contributor) 181 copies, 2 reviews
Love Letters (Contributor) 178 copies, 1 review
Sixteen Short Novels (Contributor) 171 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (Contributor) 159 copies, 1 review
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (Contributor) 152 copies, 3 reviews
The Age of Innocence [1993 film] (Original book) 152 copies, 3 reviews
Vampires, Wine, and Roses (Contributor) 151 copies, 2 reviews
New York Stories (Everyman's Pocket Classics) (Contributor, some editions) 147 copies, 5 reviews
Murder & Other Acts of Literature (Contributor) 144 copies, 2 reviews
The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 137 copies, 2 reviews
The Saturday Evening Post Treasury (Contributor) 131 copies, 1 review
An Anthology of Famous American Stories (Contributor) 130 copies, 1 review
The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories (Contributor) 129 copies, 4 reviews
Stories to Remember, Volume II (Contributor) 125 copies, 2 reviews
The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 121 copies, 1 review
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American Short Stories (Contributor, some editions) 90 copies
The American Fantasy Tradition (Contributor) 89 copies, 2 reviews
The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women (Contributor) 79 copies, 1 review
The Oxford Book of Travel Stories (Contributor) 73 copies, 1 review
Great Vampire Stories (Contributor) 69 copies
Children of the Night (Author) 67 copies
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (Contributor) 66 copies, 1 review
Nightshade: 20th Century Ghost Stories (Contributor) 64 copies, 2 reviews
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65 Great Tales of the Supernatural (Contributor) 59 copies, 4 reviews
Love Stories (Contributor) 59 copies
The Second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (Contributor) 55 copies, 1 review
Infinite Riches (Contributor) 54 copies
The Secret Self 2: Short Stories by Women (Contributor) 53 copies, 1 review
Reading for Pleasure (Contributor) 49 copies
The Norton Book Of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 49 copies, 1 review
The House of Mirth [2000 film] (Original novel) 48 copies, 3 reviews
The Ultimate Halloween (Contributor) 47 copies, 1 review
The Mists from Beyond (Contributor) 47 copies
Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics (Contributor) 47 copies, 4 reviews
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 2 (Contributor) 47 copies
The Experience of the American Woman (Contributor) 46 copies
Masters of the Modern Short Story (Contributor) 44 copies
A Quarto of Modern Literature (Contributor) 38 copies
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Short biography
Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones to a wealthy New York family. She spent her early childhood in Europe, where she developed a gift for languages and a deep appreciation for art, architecture and literature.

She was educated by governesses and by her own reading, and began writing at any early age. Verses, her first volume of poems, was published privately when she was 16. In 1885, she married Edward "Teddy" Wharton, 12 years her senior. In 1897, with Ogden Codman, Jr., an architect friend, she published her first major book, The Decoration of Houses (1897). A few years later, she bought 113-acres in Lenox, Massachusetts, then designed and built The Mount, a country home to meet her needs as a designer, gardener, hostess, and writer. During the next 10 years at The Mount, she wrote some of her greatest works, including The House of Mirth (1905) and Ethan Frome (1911). After a divorce from Teddy Wharton in 1913, she moved permanently to France. During World War I, she did social reform and humanitarian work, including establishing schools for refugee children, for which she received the Legion of Honor.
Disambiguation notice

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Edith Wharton's book Enter at Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Edith Wharton's book Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

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