Happy Birthday Edith Wharton: Fun Facts About The Writer

Today is Edith Wharton’s 160th birthday! In order to honor the writer, let’s take a look at her legacy and some of the events that have helped to shape it.

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Writing Was Apart Of Her Life From A Young Age

Edith Wharton was born on January 24th, 1862. She began writing poetry and fictional stories before the age of ten. At the time, reading and writing was considered improper for women. Wharton would read from her father’s library, even though her mother forbade her from reading novels until she was married. Due to potential public scrutiny, her first few collections of writings were published under various pseudonyms. 

Wharton Once Designed Her Own Home

In the early twentieth century, Wharton lived with her husband Edward at their estate in Massachusetts called The Mount. Wharton had designed the estate’s main house using principles from her design book The Decoration of Houses, which had been published in 1897. The property was beautiful and featured designs inspired by French and Italian influences. After the Wharton moved out, the estate was used for various purposes, such as a dormitory and the site of a theatre troupe. The property was then bought by the Edith Wharton Restoration company and restored to its original condition. The estate, located in Lenox, Massachusetts, is currently operational and open for tours!


Her Accolades Are Impressive

Wharton’s work and intellect have been praised by many since the beginning of her career. Wharton was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for her novel Age of Innocence; she was the first woman to win this award for literature. In 1923, Wharton became the first woman to receive an honorary doctorate from Yale University. In 1929, Wharton won the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for her fiction work. 


There Many Adaptations Of Her Work

Edith Wharton’s legacy lives on not only in her writings but also in the many film adaptations that have been based on her work. The novel Age of Innocence became a film in 1993. The film won the 1994 Oscar for Best Costume Design and starred Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. Wharton’s novel Ethan Frome also became a film in 1993 starring Liam Neeson, Patricia Arquette, and Joan Allen. In 2000, Wharton’s first novel The House of Mirth was adapted as a film that starred Gillian Anderson and Dan Aykroyd. Other adaptations include The Reef, The Children, and The Old Maid.


Although Edith Wharton passed away in 1937, her work continues to be admired and her legacy is sure to live on.

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