Biography and History

Author of such classic novels as The House of Mirth and Ethan Frome, Edith Wharton is considered to be one of the most significant American women authors of the twentieth century. Besides her literary efforts, Wharton was heavily involved in volunteer relief, particularly during World War I, for which work she was made a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor.

Source: From the finding aid for C0118

Biography and History

Edith Wharton was an American novelist, short story writer, and landscape designer. In 1901 she built "The Mount," her estate in Lenox, Massachusetts, and primary residence till 1911. When her marriage deteriorated, Wharton decided to move permanently to France, living at 58 Rue de Varenne, Paris. In 1912 she published her best-known work, Ethan Frome. Throughout World War I she championed charitable efforts for refugees and, in 1916, was named a Chevalier of the "Legion of Honor" in recognition of her commitment to the displaced. After the war Wharton divided her time between Paris and Hyères, in Provence, where she finished her book The Age of Innocence in 1920 (winner 1921 Pulitzer Prize for literature.) In 1927 she purchased a villa on the site of a seventheenth-century convent in the hills above the city of Hyères in Provence, where she lived during the winters and springs. She called the villa "Sainte-Claire du Chateau" and filled the garden with cactus and subtropical plants. She returned to the United States only once after the war to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Yale University in 1923. Wharton spoke flawless French, and many of her books were published in both French and English. She was friend and confidante to many intellectuals of her time such as Jean Cocteau, André Gide, Henry James, and Sinclair Lewis.

Alfred Austin was an English poet, who was appointed Poet Laureate in 1896 upon the death of Tennyson. Among his works are Pacchiarotto, Prince Lucifer, and The Human Tragedy (1862). His autobiography was published in 1911.

Source: From the finding aid for C1277