Friday, January 24, 2014
Happy Birthday Edith Wharton (24 January 1862-11 August 1937)
Edith Newbold Jones (Edith Wharton) seated in a chair @Yale University Library
Edith Wharton's Father, George Frederic Jones @Yale University Library
Edith Newbold Jones was born on this day in 1862 in New York City to George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander. The Jones Family were related to a very prestigious family of the day, The Rensselear Family as they liked to joke about it all the time. Edith grew up with her two brothers Frederic Rhinelander and Henry Edward. She often traveled with the Rhinelander’s niece Betrix Farrand to parts of Maine on the coast of New England as well as with friend and novelist Henry James throughout Europe.
Edith Wharton's Husband Edward Robbins Wharton (Teddy) with their three dogs Jules, Miza and Mimi @Yale University Library
She married Edward Robbins Wharton called ‘Teddy’ when she was 23 years old and he was 35 years old. His family was well off from Philadelphia and they shared a love of travel. They lived at Edith’s estate in Massachusetts called, ‘The Mount’ and she helped him battle his bouts of depression between the years 1880-1902. Sadly, in 1908 his condition worsened becoming a more serious disorder and he was said to have been ‘incurable.’ Edith divorced him in 1913. That same year she had an affair with journalist Morton Fullerton of The Times. After her divorce, she moved permanently to France and her home, ‘The Mount’ is preserved today as a museum.
During the First World War she wrote articles Fighting France: From Dunkerque to Belfort and worked tirelessly for charities for refugees when in 1916 she received a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour award in recognition of her tireless commitment to the displaced.
Edith Wharton's Pulitzer Prize @Yale University Library
She finished The Age of Innocence between Paris and Provence, France, in 1920 and received the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1921. She lived in Provence in 1927 purchasing a villa, Castel Sainte-Claire dating back to the 17th century. She received an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University in 1923. She spoke fluent French as well as several other languages. Many of her books were published in both English and French. She wrote her autobiography A Backward Glance published in 1934 leaving out personal family details about her life i.e. her marriage to Teddy and her affair with Morton Fullerton as well as her very difficult relationship with her mother Lucretia Jones. Edith Wharton died of a stroke in 1937 at the home Le Pavillion Colombe which today is called rue Edith Wharton. She is buried in the American cemetery in Versailles , France.
Edith Wharton wrote and left us with 10 works of Non-fiction, 23 novels, three works of poetry and a short story collection.
Edith Wharton at home in her villa, Castel Sainte-Claire. @Yale University Library
To anyone who would like to see the documentation and photographs of Edith Wharton, Yale University Library
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