born 1862

The young Edith Wharton was strictly forbidden from reading novels until after her wedding day. At age 40, the unhappily married author published her first foray into the risque genre. It turned out to be a bestseller. And, a classic.

A well-to-do daughter born into New York high society, Edith wasn't satisfied to spend her adult life playing wife + hostess. She found her first creative outlet in design ~ building her own estate + writing how-to guides on decor. She went on to make a living + reputation for herself with her pen and incisive wit. 

Edith wrote 40 books in as many years, was the first woman to win a Pulitzer in 1921 and got Nobel-Prize noms on more than one occasion. Today, her tragic tales of characters caught in society's snares continue to be favorite teaching texts + inspire many an adaptation on big + small screens.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Edith Wharton (11)

"Set wide the window. Let me drink the day."

Vesalius in Zante (1564) | november 1902

"There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."

Vesalius in Zante (1564) | november 1902

"The only way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it."

The House of Mirth | 1905

"No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity."

The House of Mirth | 1905

"It was one of the days when the glitter of winter shines through a pale haze of spring."

Ethan Frome | 1911

"My little old dog: a heart-beat at my feet."

In Provence and Lyrical Epigrams | 1920

"Each time you happen to me all over again."

The Age of Innocence | 1920

"The air of ideas is the only air worth breathing."

The Age of Innocence | january 1920

"Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before."

The Writing of Fiction | 1925

"True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision."

The Writing of Fiction | 1925

"Habit is necessary; it is the habit of having habits, of turning a trail into a rut, that must be incessantly fought against if one is to remain alive."

A Backward Glance | 1934
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curated with care by Pauline Weger