Happy 155th Birthday, Edith Wharton
In honor of Edith Wharton’s 155th birthday, the Author wishes to recount the pilgrimage she took to The Mount, Edith Warton’s estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, which is now a house museum.
At the time of the visit, the Author was searching for a topic for her upcoming dissertation. Inspired by Wharton’s short story “Roman Fever”, as well as, Henry James’ Daisy Miller and the diaries written by her ancestor, Caroline Hyde Butler Laing, when she lived in Rome from 1869-1871, the Author was toying with the idea of writing about American women in Rome.
This gave the Author a good enough excuse to contact The Mount and ask to research from their archives. Little did she expect that the wonderful staff at The Mount would set her up at Edith Wharton’s desk in Edith Wharton’s library to look at Edith Wharton’s very own books! The Author was giddy with excitement, but she tried (mostly successfully) to appear like a most serious scholar.
The Author, who is usually resistant to asking for her photograph to be taken, couldn’t possibly let this event go by without proper documentation, so she asked a tourist passing through the library to take her picture. This fuzzy photograph doesn’t come close to capturing the Author’s delight. To the right: Edith Wharton at her desk (photograph taken from the opposite side as the Author’s photo).
The Author ended up writing her dissertation on Vanity Fair‘s Becky Sharp, but Edith Wharton-and her heroines Lily Bart and Ellen Olenska-still hold a dear place in her heart.
Readers might recall previously shared posts about Edith Wharton: a new House of Mirth cover and this brilliant bit of dialogue written by an 11 (eleven!) year old Edith Wharton:
“‘Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Brown?’ said Mrs. Tomkins. ‘If only I had known you were going to call I should have tidied up the drawing room.’”
Lucretia’s devastating critique:
‘Drawing-rooms are always tidy’”