Image reproduced from R. W. B. Lewis, Edith Wharton: A Biography. New York: Harper & Row, 1975; Fromm 
International Publishing, 1985. 

Edith Wharton at 18

This picture shows Edith Wharton at the age of eighteen when she was still Edith Newbold Jones, the daughter of a wealthy New York family of impeccable social background. A serious, studious girl, she had already mastered several languages and had written her first novel. It was called Fast and Loose, and she even wrote a series of mock reviews criticizing it. Forbidden to read novels as a child, she studied the classics.

 Her mother paid to have a book of Edith Wharton's poems published anonymously (Verses, 1878), and William Dean Howells published five of them in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly.  Her family, however, worried that such an intellectual daughter might not marry and tried to discourage further artistic efforts. Edith Jones thus made her debut into New York society a year early, in 1879.  By 1880 she was engaged, though not to her future husband Edward Wharton, whom she would marry in 1885.

Wharton's first published story is "Mrs. Manstey's View," which appeared  in Scribner's Magazine in 1891.  Early works include The Greater Inclination (1899), a collection of short stories; The Touchstone(1900); Crucial Instances (stories; 1901); and a novel set in Italy, The Valley of Decision (1902).

Map of 14 W. 23rd St., New York, Wharton's home at age 10.