Image reproduced from The Letters of Edith Wharton, ed. R. W. B. Lewis and Nancy Lewis (New York:
Macmillan/Collier Books, 1988). 
Edith Wharton at 45

This picture of Edith Wharton in 1907 shows her at about 45 years of age. She had published several works, including one of the best-selling books of 1905, The House of Mirth. Other important works of this period include Madame de Treymes (1907) and The Fruit of the Tree (1907), a novel that addressed issues such as euthanasia and labor conditions.

Wharton's success at depicting New York society led some readers to believe that she was simply a society novelist. A keen social critic and reader of Darwin, Hegel, and other theorists, however, Wharton applied what we would today term an almost scientific detachment to her study of the world that she knew so well.

Wharton's New York novels are often called novels of manners, a term that describes works depicting a particular social class and way of life, the action of which revolves around social situations and their resolution. Her novels have also been called naturalistic.

Later in her life, she met F. Scott Fitzgerald. Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild, admired her work, as did Sinclair Lewis, who dedicated a book to her.

Picture of Pencraig Cottage and Land's End in Newport, Rhode Island, Wharton's summer homes.