Explore the Works of Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton is one of the greatest and most influential of American novelists. Her fiction frequently focuses on the rigid mores and prejudices of upper class characters who live in the high society of New York in the early twentieth century. As a writer, Wharton is noted for a deft writing style and for masterful social and psychological portraits of the characters in her stories who often understand, too late, exactly what they have lost in life.
Her fiction has influenced many writers and artists who followed her, including Nora Ephron, Tori Amos, Michael Eisner, and Jonathan Franzen. Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton Abbey, ”acknowledges: “It is quite true that Edith Wharton has been a tremendous influence on me . . . I decided, largely because of her work, that it was time I wrote something.”
Dover titles of Wharton’s fiction include:
Short Stories, an anthology that has seven stories, including “Souls Related,” a tragedy that delineates the lives of characters who are overcome by the social demands of convention. Other stories, such as “The Pelican” and “The Muse’s Tragedy,” present women whose actual lives are dramatically different from their social personae. Wharton also wrote ghost stories, including “The Eyes,” which is included in Dover’s The Cold Embrace.
The House of Mirth (reprint of 1905 edition by Scribner’s). A bestseller when it was first published, the novel presents a destructive love story set in the context of fashionable, turn-of-the-century New York Society.
Ethan Frome (reprint of 1911 Scribner’s edition). Wharton’s most popular novel is also considered her masterpiece. The book details the story of Frome, his sickly wife Zenaida, and her young companion Mattie Silver, as their actions draw them into a destructive domestic struggle.
The Age of Innocence. Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1920 for her novel about Newland Archer, his fiancé May Welland, and her cousin Countess Ellen Olenska. The three characters become trapped within the rigid requirements of high society in New York.
Wharton also wrote nonfiction, including The Decoration of Houses (1897). With the help of architect Ogden Carter,Jr., Wharton created a manual that rejects the vulgarity of nouveau riche manors constructed during the Gilded Age. Instead, her book champions simplicity and balance in the furniture and interiors of homes both large and small. Wharton’s book sparked a renaissance in American interior design, and its common sense approach remains relevant to home design in our own era.
The Book of the Homeless(reprint of the 1916 Scibner’s edition). This benefit volume for homeless civilian victims of World War I, the book is an anthology that drew upon Wharton’s connections with notable authors and artists, including Henry James, Jean Cocteau, Thomas Hardy, Claude Monet, Joseph Conrad, W.B. Yeats, and many others. Much of the text is in both English and French. This is a Calla edition, so the reproduction is high quality and a pleasure to read.
For fans of Edith Wharton, a notable attraction is The Mount — Edith Wharton’s home . Located in the town of Lenox in the Berkshire area of Massachusetts, The Mount is a museum and cultural center devoted to Wharton’s life and works. The Mount features programs throughout the year and also hosts tours of the main house between May 13 and October 31, 2017.