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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 12,722 copies, 290 reviews
The House of Mirth 8,949 copies, 189 reviews
Ethan Frome 8,874 copies, 201 reviews
The Custom of the Country 2,162 copies, 60 reviews
Summer 1,954 copies, 65 reviews
The Buccaneers 1,222 copies, 22 reviews
The Glimpses of the Moon 928 copies, 24 reviews
The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton 825 copies, 26 reviews
The Reef 759 copies, 13 reviews
Old New York 624 copies, 16 reviews
Roman Fever and Other Stories 535 copies, 14 reviews
The Children 448 copies, 9 reviews
Madame de Treymes 355 copies, 7 reviews
Twilight Sleep 351 copies, 8 reviews
The Mother's Recompense 306 copies, 5 reviews
The Decoration of Houses 300 copies, 6 reviews
The Touchstone 284 copies, 12 reviews
Ethan Frome / Summer 271 copies, 8 reviews
Bunner Sisters 268 copies, 20 reviews
In Morocco 224 copies, 5 reviews
Short Stories 206 copies, 3 reviews
Hudson River Bracketed 204 copies, 3 reviews
The Fruit of the Tree 165 copies, 4 reviews
The Writing of Fiction 152 copies, 6 reviews
Sanctuary 139 copies, 6 reviews
The Old Maid 135 copies, 6 reviews
The Reckoning 126 copies, 4 reviews
A son at the front 126 copies, 5 reviews
The Gods Arrive 112 copies, 2 reviews
Souls Belated 108 copies, 4 reviews
Xingu 97 copies, 16 reviews
A motor-flight through France 81 copies, 1 review
Tales of Men and Ghosts 79 copies, 2 reviews
Afterward 77 copies, 1 review
French Ways and Their Meaning 75 copies, 1 review
The Valley of Decision 65 copies, 3 reviews
The Stories of Edith Wharton 64 copies, 1 review
Italian Backgrounds 63 copies, 1 review
The Edith Wharton omnibus 60 copies, 3 reviews
Edith Wharton: Selected Poems 59 copies, 2 reviews
Ghosts 48 copies
The Greater Inclination 39 copies, 1 review
The Letters [short story] 38 copies, 2 reviews
The Hermit and the Wild Woman 33 copies, 2 reviews
The Vice of Reading 31 copies, 1 review
The Marne 31 copies, 1 review
New Year's Day 29 copies, 1 review
The Eyes 24 copies, 3 reviews
The Works of Edith Wharton 22 copies, 1 review
The World Over 19 copies
Xingu and Other Stories 17 copies, 2 reviews
The Other Two 16 copies, 2 reviews
Kerfol 15 copies, 1 review
Selected Poems of Edith Wharton 15 copies, 2 reviews
Roman Fever [short story] 14 copies, 1 review
Here and Beyond 14 copies
Certain People 13 copies
Coming Home 11 copies
Human Nature 11 copies
The Long Run 10 copies, 1 review
The Choice 9 copies
The Old Maid [1939 film] (Author) 9 copies
Her Son 8 copies
The House Of The Dead Hand 6 copies, 4 reviews
Autres Temps 5 copies
Mr. Jones 5 copies, 1 review
A Coward 3 copies
Estate 3 copies
TREASURY 2 copies
After Holbein 2 copies
The Moving Finger 2 copies, 1 review
A Journey 2 copies, 1 review
Parson's Pleasure / The Other Two (Contributor) 2 copies
Der Unfall 1 copy
Cuentos 1 copy
Pelikan 1 copy
A book of quotations 1 copy, 1 review
The Angel at the Grave 1 copy, 1 review
50 Great Short Stories (Contributor) 1,099 copies, 9 reviews
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 1,052 copies, 20 reviews
The Crack-Up (Contributor) 865 copies, 10 reviews
The Oxford Book of American Short Stories (Contributor) 689 copies, 2 reviews
The Dark Descent (Contributor) 611 copies, 13 reviews
The Book of Fantasy (Contributor) 524 copies, 11 reviews
The Oxford Book of English Ghost Stories (Contributor) 509 copies, 7 reviews
Black Water: The Book of Fantastic Literature (Contributor) 462 copies, 8 reviews
Great American Short Stories (Contributor) 438 copies, 2 reviews
American Gothic Tales (Contributor) 416 copies, 5 reviews
Fifty Great American Short Stories (Contributor) 392 copies, 4 reviews
Great Short Stories by American Women (Contributor) 382 copies, 5 reviews
Women and Fiction: Short Stories By and About Women (Contributor) 341 copies, 6 reviews
Ghostly: A Collection of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 281 copies, 17 reviews
Americans in Paris: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 280 copies, 3 reviews
A Treasury of Short Stories (Contributor) 273 copies
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 256 copies, 4 reviews
The Treasury of American Short Stories (Contributor) 250 copies, 1 review
Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers (Contributor) 184 copies, 1 review
Stories to Remember {complete} (Contributor) 177 copies, 2 reviews
Love Letters (Contributor) 166 copies, 1 review
Sixteen Short Novels (Contributor) 163 copies
American Religious Poems: An Anthology (Contributor) 142 copies, 1 review
Murder & Other Acts of Literature (Contributor) 140 copies, 2 reviews
Vampires, Wine, and Roses (Contributor) 138 copies, 2 reviews
The Age of Innocence [1993 film] (Original book) 133 copies, 3 reviews
New York Stories (Everyman's Pocket Classics) (Contributor, some editions) 130 copies, 5 reviews
The Virago Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 129 copies, 1 review
An Anthology of Famous American Stories (Contributor) 126 copies, 1 review
The Saturday Evening Post Treasury (Contributor) 123 copies
The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories (Contributor) 122 copies, 4 reviews
The Big Book of Classic Fantasy (Contributor) 122 copies, 3 reviews
Stories to Remember, Volume II (Contributor) 118 copies, 2 reviews
The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 115 copies, 1 review
The Penguin Book of Women's Humour (Contributor) 108 copies
The Persephone Book of Short Stories (Contributor) 105 copies, 2 reviews
Haunted America: Star-Spangled Supernatural Stories (Contributor) 101 copies, 1 review
Norton Introduction to the Short Novel (Contributor, some editions) 92 copies, 1 review
Chilling Horror Short Stories (Contributor) 89 copies
American Fantastic Tales: Boxed Set (Contributor) 89 copies, 2 reviews
The American Fantasy Tradition (Contributor) 88 copies, 2 reviews
The Scribner Treasury: 22 Classic Tales (Contributor) 84 copies, 1 review
American Short Stories (Contributor, some editions) 83 copies
Chilling Ghost Short Stories (Cover artist) 82 copies
The Penguin Book of Erotic Stories by Women (Contributor) 77 copies, 1 review
The Oxford Book of Travel Stories (Contributor) 71 copies, 1 review
Children of the Night (Author) 64 copies
Nightshade: 20th Century Ghost Stories (Contributor) 63 copies, 2 reviews
Great Vampire Stories (Contributor) 63 copies
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows (Contributor) 61 copies, 1 review
A Fabulous Formless Darkness (Contributor) 61 copies
Love Stories (Contributor) 57 copies
The Second Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories (Contributor) 55 copies, 1 review
65 Great Tales of the Supernatural (Contributor) 54 copies, 4 reviews
The Secret Self 2: Short Stories by Women (Contributor) 51 copies, 1 review
Infinite Riches (Contributor) 51 copies
The Norton Book Of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 47 copies, 1 review
The Mists from Beyond (Contributor) 47 copies
Reading for Pleasure (Contributor) 47 copies
The Experience of the American Woman (Contributor) 46 copies
The Ultimate Halloween (Contributor) 45 copies, 1 review
The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories 2 (Contributor) 45 copies
Manhattan Noir 2: The Classics (Contributor) 45 copies, 4 reviews
The House of Mirth [2000 film] (Original novel) 43 copies, 2 reviews
Masters of the Modern Short Story (Contributor) 40 copies
A Quarto of Modern Literature (Contributor) 36 copies
Some Things Fierce and Fatal (Contributor) 35 copies
Midnight Specials (Contributor) 33 copies
XII Twelve Short Novels (Contributor) 33 copies
The Haunted Library: Classic Ghost Stories (Contributor) 31 copies, 2 reviews
Mothers and Daughters: An Anthology (Contributor) 30 copies, 1 review
Stories for the Dead of Night (Contributor) 27 copies
Medusa's Daughters (Contributor) 25 copies
Eight Short Novels (Contributor) 23 copies
Studies in Fiction (Contributor) 22 copies, 1 review
The Buccaneers [1995 TV mini series] (Original book) 20 copies
Femmes de Siècle (Contributor) 17 copies
Enter At Your Own Risk: Fires and Phantoms (Contributor) 16 copies, 5 reviews
The Fireside Book of Ghost Stories (Contributor) 15 copies
Back from the Dead (Contributor) 13 copies
Ethan Frome [1993 film] (Original novel; Author, some editions) 13 copies
Tales of the Undead: Vampires and Visitants (Contributor, some editions) 9 copies, 1 review
The Joy of Living (Translator, some editions) 5 copies
Representative American Short Stories (Contributor) 5 copies, 1 review
Classic Women's Literature (Contributor) 5 copies
The Sleeping and the Dead (Contributor) 5 copies
Evergreen Stories (Contributor) 4 copies
Best of Women's Short Stories, Volume 3 (Contributor) 4 copies, 2 reviews
Best of Women's Short Stories, Volume I (Contributor) 4 copies, 1 review
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Wives and Lovers (Contributor) 3 copies, 1 review
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A Reader for Writers (Contributor) 2 copies
Bukcase I 2 copies
The Age of Innocence [1934 film] (Original book) 2 copies
Contos Dramáticos (Author) 1 copy

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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. She continued to write prolifically, producing more than 40 books in her career, travel, and garden. Today she is considered the supreme lens through which we view the social ambitions of the rich and newly rich of the American Gilded Age.
Disambiguation notice

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

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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