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If you would like your book about Edith Wharton listed here, please send the publication information (including a link to the press's page about the book) to Donna Campbell, Please send it in the body of your message, not as a .pdf attachment.

Book notices are posted in the order in which they were received, with the most recent ones at the top of the page. Notices are abbreviated to fit the space limitations on this page; please click on the link to the publisher's site for full details.

book cover Edith Wharton in Context
Edited by Laura Rattray. Cambridge University Press, 2012 <>

In a publishing career spanning seven decades, Edith Wharton lived and wrote through a period of tremendous social, cultural and historical change. Bringing together a team of more than thirty international scholars, this volume provides the first substantive text dedicated to the various contexts that frame Wharton's remarkable career. Each essay offers a clearly argued and lucid assessment of Wharton's work as it relates to seven key areas: life and works, critical receptions, book and publishing history, arts and aesthetics, social designs, time and place, and literary milieux.Contributors include: Laura Rattray, Pamela Knights, Melanie Dawson, Sharon Kehl Califano, Susan Goodman, Heidi M. Kunz, Linda De Roche, Melissa M. Pennell, Jessica Schubert McCarthy, Sharon Shaloo, Gary Totten, Elsa Nettels, Bonnie Shannon McMullen, John Dennis Anderson, Anne-Marie Evans, Emily J. Orlando, Cecilia Macheski, Helena Chance, Katherine Joslin, Maureen E. Montgomery, Linda Wagner-Martin, Margaret Toth, Adam Jabbur, William Blazek, Robin Peel, Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Gail D. Sinclair, Carol J. Singley, Judith P. Saunders, Linda Costanzo Cahir, Donna Campbell, Jennifer Haytock

My Dear Governess: The Letters of Edith Wharton to Anna Bahlmann
Edited by Irene Goldman-Price. Yale University Press, 2012.

An exciting archive came to auction in 2009: the papers and personal effects of Anna Catherine Bahlmann (1849–1916), a governess and companion to several prominent American families. Among the collection were one hundred thirty-five letters from her most famous pupil, Edith Newbold Jones, later the great American novelist Edith Wharton. Remarkably, until now, just three letters from Wharton’s childhood and early adulthood were thought to survive. Bahlmann, who would become Wharton’s literary secretary and confidante, emerges in the letters as a seminal influence, closely guiding her precocious young student’s readings, translations, and personal writing. Taken together, these letters, written over the course of forty-two years, provide a deeply affecting portrait of mutual loyalty and influence between two women from different social classes.

This correspondence reveals Wharton’s maturing sensibility and vocation, and includes details of her life that will challenge long-held assumptions about her formative years. Wharton scholar Irene Goldman-Price provides a rich introduction to My Dear Governessthat restores Bahlmann to her central place in Wharton’s life.


Edith Wharton's The Custom of the Country: A Reassessment
Editor: Laura Rattray

During her lifetime, Edith Wharton was one of America’s most popular and prolific writers, publishing over forty books and winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. But after her death her work slipped out of favour, and it is only in the last thirty years that her reputation as a literary heavyweight and a great writer has recovered.

Bringing together twelve leading Wharton scholars from Europe and North America, this volume offers the first ever collection of essays on Wharton’s 1913 tour de force, The Custom of the Country. Described as 'her greatest book' by Hermione Lee in her acclaimed 2007 biography of the writer, and listed by Wharton herself at the end of a long and prolific career as one of her own favourite works, The Custom of the Country arguably remains the author’s most complex and controversial novel. The contributions to this collection demonstrate the continuing evolution of Wharton scholarship within modern critical approaches.
Book cover

Patricia Fra López (literary editor). Edith Wharton: Back to Compostela/ Regreso a Compostela
Santiago de Compostela: Servicio de Publicaciones e Intercambio Científico, 2011. ISBN 978-84-9887-721-2
Ebook: <>

Edith Wharton (1862-1937), writer of The Age of Innocence and many other novels, travelled along the Way of St. James, also known as the Pilgrims’ Way, twice, in 1925 and in 1928. This is a  facsimilar, annotated edition in which we bring to light for the first time two unpublished texts:  a diary, entitled “Last Spanish Journey with W. Spain 1925” that Wharton wrote during her first pilgrimage and an unfinished essay, from which we borrow the title for our book: “Back to Compostela” that she wrote after her first journey to Galicia.

This book is the result of a research project developed by Patricia Fra-López (University of Santiago de Compostela), which delves into the nearly unknown relationship of Wharton and  Spain. The introduction is devoted to exploring the significance of her pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the writer’s biography.
The first section of the volume is dedicated to the facsimilar edition of the Spain Diar y, together with its transcription into English, designed to facilitate the readers’ access to a text that portrays a wide panorama of the places that Wharton and Walter Berry visited in September 1925. With the aim of outspreading this text among the reading public in Spain and in Galicia,  we decided to translate the Diary  into Spanish and Galician, and also to illustrate the edition, with photographs, postcards and engravings of the time of their sojourn, 1925-30,  supplemented by other contemporary pictures, which might convey an idea of what Wharton saw.
In the second section we publish the essay “Back to Compostela” and its corresponding transcriptions into English, Spanish and Galician. As is the critical consensus that this essay was to form part of a travel book Wharton planned to write on Spain, titled A Motor-Flight Through Spain, which she unfortunately never wrote, we chose the illustrations that best show the iconography of  Galicia and Santiago in the 1920s.

The volume is complemented by an updated bibliography which points out at the most recent criticism on Wharton and her travel literature,  and also includes classic and contemporary studies on the artistic and religious monuments Wharton visited during her pilgrimage.

Caroline Hellman, Domesticity and Design in American Women's Lives and Literature: Stowe, Alcott, Cather, and Wharton Writing Home. Routledge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature ;. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Domesticity and Design in American Women’s Lives and Literature explores the ways in which four American women writers from the mid-nineteenth to the early-twentieth century inhabited domestic space and portrayed it in their work. Hellman explores independent female authors who had intriguing and autonomous relationships with home, relocating frequently either to begin the creative processes of designing and decorating anew or to avoid domestic obligation altogether by remaining in transit. She also looks at how women authors wrote female characters into existence who had strikingly different relationships with home, and contended with profound burdens of housekeeping in an oppressive domestic sphere. The disjunction between the authors' individual existences and the characters to whom they gave life reveals multiple narratives about women at home in nineteenth- and twentieth- century America. This interdisciplinary inquiry undertakes a dual treatment of domesticity in an effort to synthesize a more complete understanding of the relationships between social history and literary accomplishment. Syncretising domestic literature with domestic practice, Hellman appraises the ways in which the authors appropriate domestic rhetoric to address issues of political import: economy, health, and social welfare in the case of Stowe, material feminism for Alcott, the landscape for Cather, and World War I for Wharton.

Avril Horner and Janet Beer, Edith Wharton: Sex, Satire and the Older Woman

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in August 2011 and distributed in the United States by St. Martin's Press. 207 pages. ISBN 1403941262.

This book is a perceptive and persuasive reading on one of Wharton's most crucial topics: the power of the older woman. In analyzing sex and satire, Beer and Horner develop a remarkable argument about Wharton's dramatic style and her intense investigation of modern sexuality.' - Dale Bauer, Professor of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

'Horner and Beer argue, in this scholarly but accessible approach to Wharton's last six publications, that she was merging different genres...Her mix of modernist elements, popular genres, and taboo subjects made Wharton's last novels extraordinary. This study is a welcome correction to the great misunderstanding that has been done to them.' - Lesley McDowell, The Independent

Katherine Joslin, Edith Wharton and the Making of Fashion

University of New Hampshire Press, 2011 (paper)

“There’s never been a book quite like Katherine Joslin’s Edith Wharton and the Making of Fashion, a very readable tour de force which blends material culture and literary study in a refreshingly entertaining and informative way.”—Susan Goodman, H. Fletcher Brown Chair of Humanities, University of Delaware

“Joslin brings a new Edith Wharton into view as she draws on several kinds of cultural critique. By focusing her text on certain of Wharton’s novels, Joslin creates a practical guide to reading Wharton that is different from any of the current scholarship on this author. This choice of key books works well to illustrate the dimensions of national fashion, and less directly, of national character.”—Linda Wagner-Martin, Frank Borden Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature, The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

picture Carol J. Singley, Adopting America: Childhood, Kinship, and National Identity in Literature. Oxford University Press, 2011.

American literature abounds with orphans who experience adoption or placements that resemble adoption. These narratives do more than describe adventures of children living away from home. They tell an American story of family and national identity. In literature from the seventeenth to the early twentieth century, adoption functions as narrative event and trope to recount the American migratory experience, the impact of Calvinist faith, and the growth of democratic individualism.

A complex signifier of difference, adoption gives voice to concurrent and sometimes contradictory calls to origins and new beginnings; to feelings of worthiness and unworthiness. In writings from John Winthrop and Cotton Mather to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and Edith Wharton, Carol Singley reveals how adoption both replicates and challenges genealogical norms, evoking ambivalence and playing a foundational role in the shaping of many of our most dearly held national mythologies.

"Adopting America presents an excellent and thoroughly researched overview of a timely topic--the relation of familial constructs to forms of adoption in the literature of the United States. With readings of works by writers ranging from Ben Franklin to Edith Wharton, Singley has crafted a book that will attract scholars of American literature and culture for years to come." --Shirley Samuels, Cornell University