Edith Wharton’s Life and Work

1. Introduction

Edith Wharton is considered to be one of the best short story writers and novelists to ever grace the Earth by their life and work. Even before the United States entered into World War I, she was one of the most popular authors in the country. She was born into a wealthy family and though she didn’t want for much, she saw how others who had less than her did. This spurred her social reform work later in her life. During the Gilded Age, she was one of the few people who had a public voice denouncing the robber barons like Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Henry Flagler.

The American Renaissance was a time of great social changes. The two-party system solidified, labor unions were growing, and there was a westward expansion of the population. At the same time, there was an explosion of artistic activity with new movements in painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature. Edith Wharton was very much a product of this time with her love of art, history, and culture.

2. Edith Wharton’s Life and Work

Edith Wharton was born into a wealthy family in New York City on January 24th, 1862. Her father, George Frederic Jones, came from a long line of Dutch farmers who had settled in upstate New York. Her mother, Lucretia Stevens Rhinelander, was from one of New York’s oldest and most wealthy families. As a child, Edith was educated at home by tutors and governesses. She traveled extensively with her family in Europe and developed a love for art and culture.

In 1885, she married Edward Robbins Wharton, a Boston banker. The couple had three children: Ned (born 1886), Alice (born 1891), and Teddy (born 1892). The marriage wasn’t a happy one and the couple eventually divorced in 1913.

Wharton began writing short stories in the 1880s but didn’t have any published until 1897. Her first novel, The Valley of Decision, was published in 1902 to great acclaim. She went on to write over 40 short stories and novels during her career including Ethan Frome (1911) and The Age of Innocence (1920), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

During World War I, Wharton worked for the American Red Cross in France where she helped to set up hospitals for soldiers injured in the war. After the war ended, she continued her philanthropic work with various organizations including the New York Public Library andNational Institute of Arts and Letters.

Wharton died on August 11th, 1937 at her home in France at the age of 75.

3. Wharton’s Influence in Gardens, Architecture, and Interior Decoration

In addition to being a well-known author, Edith Wharton was also an influencer in gardens, architecture, and interior decoration during America’s Gilded Age–even being called the “first lady of American design.” In 1904 she published her first book on design entitled Decoration: Its Principles Applied to Modern Homes which detailed how middle-class Americans could attain good taste without spending large sums of money on luxury items or professional designers…
Wharton’s next book, The Decoration of Houses (1907), was co-authored with architect Ogden Codman Jr. and is considered one of the most influential books on American interior design. The book detailed Wharton and Codman’s own “reform philosophy” of design which advocated for simplicity, comfort, and functionality in home decoration…

As part of their design reform efforts, Wharton and Codman also advocated for changes to American architecture. They believed that homes should be designed to suit the needs of the people who lived in them and not simply to impress onlookers…

In addition to her work in interior decoration and architecture, Edith Wharton was also an accomplished gardener. Her love of gardening began in childhood and continued throughout her life. She eventually penned a total of four books on the subject including Italian Villas and Their Gardens (1904), A Backward Glance (1934), and The Livingstone Tower (1937)…

4. Conclusion

Edith Wharton was a woman ahead of her time in many ways. Not only was she a prolific writer, but she was also an influencer in gardens, architecture, and interior decoration. Her work helped to shape the way Americans thought about these things during the Gilded Age and beyond. Even today, her books are considered classics in the field of design.


Edith Wharton's gardens, architecture and interior decoration are characterized by their simplicity, functionality and elegance.

She developed her unique style through her travels to Europe and her study of classical design principles.

She has had a significant influence on subsequent generations of designers, particularly in the field of interior design.

Cite this assignment

Free Essay Samples (February 5, 2023) Edith Wharton’s Life and Work. Retrieved from https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/.
"Edith Wharton’s Life and Work." Free Essay Samples - February 5, 2023, https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/
Free Essay Samples March 12, 2022 Edith Wharton’s Life and Work., viewed February 5, 2023,<https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/>
Free Essay Samples - Edith Wharton’s Life and Work. [Internet]. [Accessed February 5, 2023]. Available from: https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/
"Edith Wharton’s Life and Work." Free Essay Samples - Accessed February 5, 2023. https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/
"Edith Wharton’s Life and Work." Free Essay Samples [Online]. Available: https://essayholic.com/edith-whartons-life-and-work/. [Accessed: February 5, 2023]

More Related papers