Wharton, Edith (1862-1937) by McKellar, Jennifer

Edith Wharton Edith Newbold Jones was born in 1862 into a wealthy family prominent in New York City society. She stayed in Europe for several years with her family as a child, beginning a lifelong interest in travelling. She also began to write in her youth and had a poem published in at the age of 17. In 1885, Edith married a respectable man from her social class, Edward (Teddy) Robbins Wharton. The marriage was not a happy one. Teddy did not share Wharton’s intellectual abilities and interests. Eventually, Teddy embezzled money from her trust funds, and they both had affairs. Wharton’s passionate affair with , a writer for the London , lasted two years. In 1913, Wharton divorced Teddy. She never re-married and died in 1937. Atlantic Monthly William Morton Fullerton Times Wharton is best known for her contribution to American literature. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for her novel . Her fiction depicts, with both irony and compassion, the lives of individuals who are trapped or threatened by the strictures of upper class New York society. Her work is often compared with that of Henry James, who was a cherished friend of hers. The Age of Innocence Wharton made significant contributions in other fields as well. She had a lifelong interest in landscape and interior design, topics she wrote about frequently. Her first book, co-written with the architect , was entitled and discussed the interior designs of the prominent city houses of her day. In 1904, she published . During World War I, Wharton developed yet another passion, working extensively with humanitarian efforts in Europe and America. She raised considerable funds for charity throughout the war and worked with war refugees. Ogden Godman The Decoration of Homes Italian Villas and Their Gardens Wharton was an important contributor to . published some of her poetry and short stories early in her career between 1889 and 1893. She then began publishing non-fiction articles for the magazine, which she continued to do throughout much of her career, becoming the top-billed author on the issues in which her work appeared. Most of her non-fiction articles were travel writing, focusing frequently on the European landscape. Wharton also wrote articles for from her trips to the hospitals and battlefields of World War I. Several of her major works of fiction (, , and ) were serialized by in the early 1900s before being published by Charles Scribner’s Sons as books. Scribner’s Magazine Scribner’s Scribner’s The House of Mirth Ethan Frome The Custom of the Country Scribner’s Magazine For twenty-three years, Charles Scribner’s Sons was, with the exception of , the exclusive publisher of Wharton’s work (Bell 304). Wharton developed personal friendships with , her editor at Scribner’s, and with himself; many correspondence between Wharton and these two men still survive and chronicle her relationship with the publisher. In 1912, after being disappointed in the amount of advertising devoted to (published as a book by Scribner’s in 1911), Wharton began publishing most of her books with Appleton & Co. and began publishing articles, short stories, and serials in the flourishing women’s magazines and weekly publications (such as the , and ) that had wider circulation than . Despite her falling-out with Scribner’s, Wharton felt a sentimental attachment to and to Charles Scribner’s Sons throughout her life and wrote in 1916 that she felt, in the pages of , (qtd. in Bell 308). Bell, who chronicles Wharton’s relationship to her main publisher, notes that Italian Villas and Their Gardens W.C. Brownell Charles Scribner Ethan Frome Ladies Home Journal McClure’s Scribner’s Scribner’s Magazine Scribner’s more at home than anywhere else Her final contribution to [] was a memorial essay on her old Scribner editor, W. C. Brownell, done at Charles Scribner’s request in 1928. This and [the last book by Wharton that was published by Scribner’s], her artistic credo, were a not ungraceful farewell to her association with the firm which had witnessed her artistic maturing from its beginnings. (Bell 315) Scribner’s Magazine The Writing of Fiction Sources Bell, Millicent. . American Quarterly 9.3 (1957): 295-315. Lady into Author: Edith Wharton and the House of Scribner Benstock, Shari. . New York: Scribner, 1994 No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton Lewis, R.W.B. . New York: Harper & Row, 1975. Edith Wharton: A Biography Wharton, Edith. . Ed. R.W.B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis. New York: Scribner, 1998. The Letters of Edith Wharton Fiction published in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 56, No. 2, August 1914) The Triumph of Night (Vol. 59, No. 3, March 1916) Kerfol (Vol. 60, No. 4, October 1916) The Bunner Sisters, Part I Nonfiction published in Scribner’s Magazine (Vol. 57, No. 5, May 1915) The Look of Paris (Vol. 57, No. 6, June 1915) In Argonne (Vol. 58, No. 4, October 1915) In Lorraine and the Vosges

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