This page addresses some of the questions that visitors to the site
|Questions about Edith Wharton
||Writing about Edith Wharton
|Who was Edith Wharton, and why is she an important figure in American literature?
||Whom should I contact for copyright permissions, such as reprinting a work, using extended quotations, or publishing a previously unpublished letter?
|Did Edith Wharton once say, "If only we could stop trying to be happy, we could have a really good time?"
you summarize the plot of this Edith Wharton novel or story for
me and tell me its most important themes and characters?
|Are any of Edith Wharton's houses still standing, and, if so, where can I find them?
||How can I order back issues of The Edith Wharton Review? Are back issues available online?
Were any movies made of Edith Wharton's works, and, if so, where can I see them?
Where can I get a copy of the 1934 movie version of The Age of Innocence (or another movie not currently available)?
|How do I cite a page from your site in my Works Cited page?
What is "the word" at the end of The House of Mirth?
|I'm writing a paper on an Edith
Wharton novel (or short story). Where can I find online criticism
and journal articles about it?
|I have an old copy of a novel by Edith Wharton. Can you tell me what it's worth?
||I'm new to Wharton studies
and would like to get a general sense of her life and works. Where
should I start?
|Which of her works were Edith Wharton's favorites?
|I recall reading a quotation in which Edith Wharton compared a woman's life to a house full of rooms. Where can I find that in her works?
||I published an article two months ago, and you don't have it on the site. Why isn't the site up to date with adding articles?
|Did Wharton once write,"There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it"? If so, where does it appear in her writings?
|What is the best biography of Edith Wharton?
|Are there any sound recordings or movies made of Edith Wharton reading her works?
|Why don't you have a copy of "Roman Fever" or some of Wharton's
later works available at this site? (update)
was Edith Wharton, and why is she an important figure in American
Abby Werlock's biographical sketch
at this site provides
some good answers to this question.
||Did Edith Wharton once say, "If only we'd stop trying to be happy, we could have a pretty good time?"
||Not quite, but she did express this sentiment in "The Last Asset" (1904): The old gentleman made a contemptuous motion. "Possibilities of what? Of being multifariously miserable? There are lots of ways of being miserable, but there's only one way of being comfortable, and that is to stop running round after happiness. If you make up your mind not to be happy there's no reason why you shouldn't have a fairly good time."
is "the word" at the end of The House of Mirth?
Ending of The House of Mirth: What was the Word?" for
some possible answers.
||I'm writing a paper on an
Edith Wharton novel (or short story). Where can I find online criticism
and journal articles about it? (top)
The best criticism on Wharton is published in books and peer-reviewed
journals. Many peer-reviewed journals are available
online, however, through services such as ProQuest or Project Muse. If
you're a college or university student, or if you live near a college
or university, the university library will be your best source
for criticism on Wharton. Most libraries will have several
of the journals and books listed in the Wharton bibliographies.
If not, they can be ordered through Interlibrary Loan.
Many libraries will have access to FirstSearch, which includes the MLA
Bibliography, and they will also have one or more of the following
full-text databases. You can go to your local university library's
home page and see which of these resources are available to you. However,
these resources are generally available by subscription; they are free
only on-campus or to registered students and faculty.
The Edith Wharton Review has back issues online for free.
Google Books has quite a sampling of scholarly books on Wharton.
Project Muse (Journals from Johns
Hopkins University Press)(muse.jhu.edu)
JStor (www.jstor.org) (Back issues of journals, including American
Gale Group Literary
Index includes Dictionary of Literary Biographyand other
reference works, such as the Twayne series; here's a list
of its resources on Edith Wharton
You can find articles and books on your topic by searching the bibliographies
at the Wharton Society site or by using the MLA Bibliography. You
will also find some short bibliographies on individual stories in the Queries
and Student Queries pages, and you can search
this site for other references. For example, one of the pages has a
bibliography on "Roman
Fever" and "The Other Two."
||I don't live near a library, and I'm not
a student so I can't get access to the articles this way. Isn't
there anything else available? (top)
Try Google Booksfor a start, which will give you snippets of some scholarly books. Amazon.com sells some individual articles, as does Project Muse, but they are expensive.
||My library doesn't have an article you
listed. Can you send it to me? OR Can you write up some information
about my topic and send it to me? OR Send me all your information about Edith Wharton. I need it ASAP. (top)
Sorry--we can't do that. The Wharton Society site is staffed
by volunteers who all work at other jobs (mostly at universities),
doesn't keep articles on Wharton in a central repository, and can't
send materials to individuals. You can find quite a bit of information
on the site, especially in the Summaries
section; if you can't find the information, submit a Query
or Student Query.
You can also
your local college or university library for articles on the topic,
or see the question above for online possibilities. If you can't
get an article through Interlibrary Loan, try an online search
for the journal title and contact the publisher directly. Queries that resemble the third part of this question are not posted and receive no response, for obvious reasons.
||I'm new to Wharton studies and would like
to get a general sense of her life and works. Where should
I start? (top)
Works list should help. We hope to have a specific list
of books to help introduce readers to Wharton.
You might also want to look at Sarah Bird Wright's Edith Wharton:
A to Z. This is an encyclopedia-style book about Wharton with short
essays on topics related to Wharton and her works. Each essay
has a brief bibliography, too. Looking at the essays here would
help you to see what you'd be most interested in pursuing.
||How can I get an article from a back
issue of The Edith Wharton Review? Are back issues
available online? (top)
Yes, they are free and online. You can find them here: http://www.edithwhartonsociety.org/1999tab.htm
you summarize this Edith Wharton novel for me and tell me its most
important themes? (top)
You will find some brief summaries and discussion questions that
will help you to determine the themes on the Summaries
and Discussion Questions for Wharton's Major Texts section
of this site.
If there's a summary on the site, you can find it under Summaries; if there isn't--sorry, but we aren't able to respond to individual requests to summarize stories, provide questions, send articles or summarize critics' responses to works, etc., although your request will be posted so that other readers can respond.
have an old copy of The House of Mirth. Can you tell
me what it's worth? (top)
To find the value of old books, contact your local bookseller or
check the prices for comparable rare and used books on ebay.com,
or other such sites. You can also contact the Antiquarian
Booksellers Association of America for information about finding
the value of a book.
||Which biography of Edith Wharton is the best?
||You can find some assessments of the various biographies on the Queries 1999 page.
||I sent a query to the site yesterday. Did you get it? Why isn't it posted yet?
Posting queries and replies is done by hand (i.e., there's no automated process whereby these appear on the site), so they may have to wait until I have time to post them. Most are collected and posted once a week, although at busy times such as the end of the semester the wait may be a bit longer. I don't send an acknowledgment when queries or replies are received, but you can check back to see if your question or response on the site is posted to the site. Some kinds of queries already addressed in the FAQ ("Send me all your information about Edith Wharton immediately") will not be posted.
would like to quote from an unpublished letter by Edith Wharton.
Where can I get permission to do so?
Permission to quote from unpublished materials or to quote extensively
from published materials must be requested from the Watkins-Loomis
133 East 35th Street
New York, NY 10016
telephone 1 212 352 0080, fax 1 212 889 0596.
recall reading a quotation in which Edith Wharton compared a woman's
life to a house full of rooms. Where can I find that in her
This is from "The Fulness of Life" (part II) (December 1893) and
is available online in the Early
Stories of Edith Wharton, vol. 2. In the story, a woman dies
and reflects on her marriage as she talks about her life with the
Spirit of Life. The question also appears on the Student
Queries 2000 page. Here is the relevant passage from the story:
"You have hit upon the exact word; I was fond of him, yes, just
as I was fond of my grandmother, and the house that I was born in, and
my old nurse. Oh, I was fond of him, and we were counted a very
happy couple. But I have sometimes thought that a woman's nature
is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which
everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing- room, where one
receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of
the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are
other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no
one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and
in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone
and waits for a footstep that never comes."
"And your husband," asked the Spirit, after a pause, "never got
beyond the family sitting-room?"
"Never," she returned, impatiently; "and the worst of it was that he
was quite content to remain there. He thought it perfectly beautiful,
and sometimes, when he was admiring its commonplace furniture,
insignificant as the chairs and tables of a hotel parlor, I felt
like crying out to him: 'Fool, will you never guess that close
at hand are rooms full of treasures and wonders, such as the eye
of man hath not seen, rooms that no step has crossed, but that
might be yours to live in, could you but find the handle of the
any of Edith Wharton's homes still standing, and where can I find
||Several of the homes and places associated with Edith Wharton are
still standing; some are privately owned, but others can be toured. Here
is a brief list.
The Mount. One of the most
famous of Wharton's homes is The Mount near Lenox, Massachusetts. It
is still standing and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Pictures
and directions are available from the website at http://www.edithwharton.org.Directions
for getting to The Mount are available at http://www.edithwharton.org/contact.html
You can also read about The Mount at The
Mount: Edith Wharton and the American Renaissance.
Boston. Although Wharton did not live in Boston, Edward (Teddy)
Wharton was born there, and the couple stayed with his mother at her
house at 127 Beacon Street (Lewis 71) on several occasions. When their
marriage began to dissolve, Teddy Wharton rented an apartment in Boston.
New York City Grace Church: Broadway and 11th Street (Edith Wharton was christened
there).[Grace Church continues to be one of New York City's most beautiful
buildings at 800-804 Broadway.--JN] From the New
York Times (9/12/2004):
14 W. 23rd St.--EW's family returned to this house when she was
10 years old, after several years in Europe. [14 W. 23rd Street is
still standing, though much altered--it's now the home of Scott's Fifth
28 W. 25th street--home of Lucretia Jones, EW's mother, after the
death of EW's father in 1882. The wedding breakfast was held
for Edith and Teddy Wharton at this house. [28 W. 25th Street is no
longer there; an office building has replaced it. But just down the
block from it, at 15 W. 25th, is the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cathedral--which
is what Trinity Chapel has been since 1943. (It looks somewhat more
like a cathedral than a chapel.)--JN]
From the New
York Times (9/12/2004):
One of our members from NYC has said that the New York Public Library
has some good information about EW sites in the city. Thanks to Jim
Naureckas of New
York Songlines for the following information about the buildings
"The Jones family house on 23rd Street was altered repeatedly
and is now unrecognizable outside. The house at 28 West 25th Street
was demolished, but anyone who seeks to recapture a touch of Edith
Wharton's New York should still visit the south side of the street,
west of Broadway, where she lived with her mother until her marriage
From there the young Edith Jones looked across the street to
what is now the Serbian Orthodox Church of St. Sava, at 15 West
25th Street. In 1885 it was Trinity Chapel, and it was there she
married. A visitor can usually peek into St. Sava on Sundays, when
services are held at 10:30 a.m., and the interior has hardly changed
since the Jones-Wharton wedding. Outside, the front steps sag with
the weight of generations, but on her wedding day, Edith Jones
would probably not have gone in through this door - only out." (See
more excerpts in "Edith Wharton in
the News" for 9/12/2004.
Trinity Chapel, West 25th Street (Edith and Teddy Wharton were married
there on 29 April 1885.).
884-882 Park Avenue. In 1891 EW bought 884 Park Ave and a
few years later bought 882. These are near the corner of 78th
Street.(If anyone has information about this address as it exists today,
please e-mail me.) From
York Times (9/12/2004): "Like nearly all of the other
known homes of Edith Wharton in New York, 884 Park has been demolished,
but the stable she used while on Park still survives, at 111 East 77th
Street. It has some delicate little stone carving around the windows,
but she bought the stable already completed, so it is doubtful her
hand is evident in the design."
York Times lists a tour given by the 92nd Street Y: (On Sundays).
At 1 p.m. "Edith Wharton's New York," with a tour of sites in Madison Square
and Gramercy Park. Fees: $25 to $40. Meeting places and reservations: (212)
Rhinebeck, New York
Up the Hudson River from New York is Rhinebeck; The Age of Innocence and The
House of Mirth have a lot of descriptions of houses in that area,
including the Vanderbilt
mansion near Hyde Park.Two late novels, Hudson River Bracketed and The
Gods Arrive, also deal extensively with Hudson River architecture.
Wyndcliffe. Edith Wharton's aunt, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones,
built a 24-room house called Wyndcliffe in Rhinebeck in 1852. Legend
has it that this is the source
of the phrase "keeping up with the Joneses."
Pictures and descriptions are available on the Web at http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/wyndcliffe/wyndcliffe.html
A collection of drawings, pictures, and maps is available at the American
Memory Home Page. Note: A stable URL is not available for this
page; click on the link and type "wyndcliffe" in the search box.
The Whartons also lived in a cottage on the grounds of Pencraig and
later purchased Land's End, in Newport. Land's
End is still there, albeit
in private hands; it is visible from the beach walk.
(Link to more
pictures and background information.)
Many of the Gilded Age houses of Newport are open for tours, including The
Breakers. Pictures of several of these are available on the
Newport Mansions site at http://www.newportmansions.org.
Paris. In Paris, Edith Wharton lived at 58, rue de Varenne
and later 53, rue de Varenne before purchasing homes at Pavillon
Colombe in Paris (in St.-Brice-sous-Foret). Pavillon Colombe is privately owned and not open to the public.
Riviera. In 1919, Wharton purchased a chateau in Hyeres on the
Riviera (Ste. Claire du Vieux Chateau).
Good sources of information, besides the biographies by Shari Benstock,
R.W. B. Lewis, Hermione Lee, and Eleanor Dwight, include Theresa Craig's Edith Wharton:
A House Full of Rooms and Sarah Bird Wright's Edith Wharton from
A to Z.
Wharton once write,"There are two ways of spreading light: to be
the candle or the mirror that receives it"? If so, where does it
appear in her writings?
Yes, Edith Wharton wrote this. It appears in "Vesalius
in Zante," one of the poems from her collection Artemis
to Actaeon (1909).
||I published an article two months ago, and you don't have it on the site. Why isn't the site up to date with adding articles and books?
||If you want your book or article to appear, send the information to the site. The new publications pages are updated periodically based on the MLA Bibliography. There is no paid staff to hunt down members' publications and update the site based on searches.
any Edith Wharton works been made into movies? Are they readily
available? Can you help me get a copy of one that I can't find on VHS or DVD?
You can find a list of these (and availability) on the Edith
Wharton Filmography page. If it's not listed as available there, it isn't available.
Unfortunately, some adaptations, such as those seen on PBS in the early 1980s, can only be seen on television or by visiting an archive such as the Museum of Television and Radio (New York and Los Angeles). We do not have copies or access to copies of unavailable movies, and thus we can't send them to individuals. You can try writing to PBS or requesting the movie through Amazon.com, which reports the level of interest in future DVD releases of these titles to the relevant companies.
We get many questions about the 1934 version of The Age of Innocence starring Irene Dunne and John Boles. It is now available at the Warner Archive Collection or through amazon.com or bn.com.
||Are there any film clips or sound recordings of Edith Wharton?
As far as we know, there aren't any sound recordings of Edith Wharton or any film made of her during her lifetime. Please contact the site if you know of any.
||Why don't you have a copy of "Roman Fever" or
some of Wharton's later works posted at your site?
"Roman Fever" is still
under copyright because
it was first published in 1934. Only works published in or prior
to 1923 are generally considered to be in the public domain
according to U.S. copyright law, so Wharton's works published after
1923 aren't available here. Copies are available on the web, but
they might not be legally posted unless permission has been obtained
from the Watkins-Loomis Agency or the server exists in a country
with different copyright laws.
UPDATE: A copy is available at About.com; since this is a commercial site, I assume that permission has been obtained to post it. Here's the link: http://classiclit.about.com/library/bl-etexts/ewharton/bl-ewhar-roman.htm
||Which of Wharton's works were her personal
According to R. W. B. Lewis, Wharton's favorites included Hudson
River Bracketed ("I am sure it is my best book"), The
Gods Arrive, The Custom of the Country, Summer, and The
Children (490). Thanks to Hildegard Hoeller for this information.
||How do I cite a page from your site in my Works Cited page?
This depends on the style your instructor prefers (MLA, Chicago,
Turabian), but Diana
Hacker's site and a site
from the Duke University libraries provide some good examples.
Hacker's site also includes examples of in-text citation.
The MLA site also has good examples at http://www.mla.org/publications/style/style_faq/style_faq4.
Please note that although your Works Cited page should use hanging
indents (i.e., indent the second line five spaces more than the
first line), this can't be done easily on a web page. Also, the
web address URL may be on a separate line since the space here
is limited, but it should not be (or does not have to be) on a
separate line in your document. Adjust your formatting accordingly.
None of the examples at MLA or the other sites listed exactly
addresses the materials at this site, so here are some possibilities.
1. For quoting from replies on the Queries and Student Queries
This is adapted from the Web
Forum Posting example at the Hacker site.
Author Lastname, Author Firstname. "Reply to Question." Online
posting. Date of reply. The Edith Wharton Society. Date
you accessed the page. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/squeries02.htm
[or whatever the web address is]>.
Hugel, V . "Reply to 'French Draft of Ethan Frome.'" Online
posting. 29 Dec. 2004. The Edith Wharton Society. 20 Nov.
Kinman, Alice. "Re: House of Mirth Ending." Online posting. 24
Mar. 2000. The
Edith Wharton Society. 20 Nov. 2005. <http://www.edithwhartonsociety.org/hmending.html>.
2. For quoting information provided on a specific page. (Note:
Sources of information are given on individual pages. If the information
is from another source, you should look
up the original source.)
This is adapted from the personal
site example on the MLA site, although it can't fit the model
Author lastname, author firstname. "Page title." Date
of the page [this is found at the bottom of every page; MLA form
requires only the date of the most recent update]. The Edith
Wharton Society. Date
you accessed the page. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/pagename.htm>.
Werlock, Abby. "Biographical Information about Edith Wharton." 22
May 2005. The
Edith Wharton Society. 20
November 2005. <http://www.edithwhartonsociety.org/bio.htm>.
Campbell, Donna. "Edith Wharton at 18." Edith Wharton: A Life
in Pictures and Text. 31 May 2005. The Edith Wharton Society.
20 November 2005. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/photo1.htm>.
Rich, Charlotte. "Ethan Frome." Summaries and Discussion Questions
for Wharton's Major Texts. The Edith Wharton Society. 20
November 2005. < http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/disc/id7.htm>.
3. Depending on your instructor's preferences, you might also cite
this page as part of a scholarly project. Again, the example
the MLA example, this time for a scholarly project. Using
the information above, your Works Cited entry would look like
Werlock, Abby. "Biographical Information about Edith Wharton." The
Edith Wharton Society. Ed. Donna Campbell. 22 May 2005. Washington
State University. 20 November 2005. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/bio.htm>
Campbell, Donna. "Edith Wharton at 18." Edith Wharton:
A Life in Pictures and Text. The Edith Wharton Society. Ed.
Donna Campbell. 31 May 2005. Washington State University. 20
November 2005. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/photo1.htm>.
Rich, Charlotte. "Ethan Frome." Summaries and Discussion
Questions for Wharton's Major Texts. The Edith Wharton Society.
Ed. Donna Campbell. Washington State University. 20 November 2005. <http://www.wsu.edu/~campbelld/wharton/disc/id7.htm>.
Please send comments
and suggestions to D.