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


Pamela Britley said…
I love Age of Innocence. One of her best novels. Such an interesting look at her life. Great photos.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Pamela,
It is so good to know that others enjoy Edith Wharton as much as I do. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Hels said…
Edith and her husband looked like very Edwardian people, don't you think, even though Edith at least lived into the late 1930s.

I am very pleased she spoke French fluently and made her permanent home in France from 1913 onwards. It gave her writing a European sensibility that even a well travelled writer in the New World could not have. And I must visit her home in Rue Edith Wharton and her tomb in the cemetery... Thank you.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Hels,

Yes, I agree with you they do look like very Edwardian people! You are absolutely right about her writing having a European sensibility. I never thought of it that way. I would love to visit her home and tomb if I ever get to France! Thanks so much for commenting.
Kevin Marsh said…
Hello Kimberley,

lovely photographs and a fascinating story. Another kindred soul who lived in France.

Thank you for sharing.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hi Kevin,

Thank you. She was another interesting and complex woman. Oh, the dream to live in France. I believe it started when I was probably twelve years old looking through one of those books about Villages of France and swooning. I used to dream about bicycling into town to buy french baguettes and cheese! I was just a kid so no wine...So happy I found those photographs at Yale University as well. So happy to hear from you.
Thank you for including The Mount in your lovely tribute. The Mount is a National Historic Landmark and year-round cultural center that celebrates the intellectual, artistic, and humanitarian legacy of Edith Wharton. For those who would like to lean more about Edith Wharton or to visit The Mount, please go to www.edithwharton.org.
Kimberly Eve said…
Hello and thank you for your lovely words. I'm just glad you enjoyed it. I hope to visit The Mount one day!

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