New page at the site for Edith Wharton in the News

There’s a new page at this site for Edith Wharton in the News, under Queries:

It contains links to the current Edith Wharton in the News feature at

and to the old Edith Wharton in the News Site that contains posts from 2003-2013:

We welcome new information and questions about Edith Wharton. If you have a question  you’d like to have posted  or “Wharton in the News” sighting that you’d like to share, please use the form on the Queries page..

Edith Wharton Society Panels at ALA this week


Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:00 – 1:20 pm 

Session 3-H Wharton and Masculinities (Glacier: 2nd Floor)

Organized by the Edith Wharton Society
Chair: Melanie Dawson, College of William and Mary

1. “’A Ruin of a Man’: Non-Normative Masculinity in Ethan Frome,” Andrea Harris, Mansfield University

2. “How delicious to have a place like this all to one’s self!”: Claiming Masculine Spaces in Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth,” Miranda A. Green-Barteet, University of Western Ontario

3. “Constructions of Masculinity and Material Acquisition in The House of Mirth,” Linda Saladin- Adams, Florida State University

4. “Spectral Masculinities in Edith Wharton’s ‘The Eyes’ and ‘Afterward,’” Gina Rossetti, Saint Xavier University


Saturday, May 24, 2014 9:30 – 10:50 am 

Session 16-B Edith Wharton and the Natural World (Bunker Hill: Ballroom Level) Organized by the Edith Wharton Society

Chair: Emily Orlando, Fairfield University

1. “The Natural World and the Built Environment in Wharton’s Travel Writing,” Gary Totten, North Dakota State University

  1. “Edith Wharton in the Wild,” Julie Olin-Ammentorp, Le Moyne College
  2. “‘A heartbeat at my feet’: Edith Wharton, Howard Sturgis, and Canine Comradeship,” Sharon Kehl

Califano, Mount Washington College 


Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:00 am – 12:20 pm 

Session 17-N

Business Meeting: Wharton Society (Grand Canyon: 2nd Floor) 

CFP: Edith Wharton Society Session at SAMLA 2014 (Deadline: 6.9.13)

Edith Wharton Society Session at SAMLA 2014 (Atlanta, GA, November 7-9, 2014)

Sustaining Humanity: The Abundance of Edith Wharton

The Edith Wharton Society invites papers that engage with this year’s SAMLA conference theme: “Sustainability and the Humanities.” The concept of sustainability in Edith Wharton’s writings has a multiplicity of meanings.  During this centenary of World War I, one thinks of her efforts to sustain France and its cultural heritages, work recognized by the French Legion of Honor. Or perhaps the imagination might turn to the ways in which her enduring wit uncovered the humorous and disturbing nature of humanity:  “No insect hangs its nest on threads as frail as those which will sustain the weight of human vanity” (The House of Mirth, Chapter 10). More literally, one might consider Wharton’s planning and design of outdoor spaces.  With remarkable talent in landscape architecture, Wharton favored sustainability, as well as aesthetics. A range of creative responses to this topic is welcome, including examinations of her non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. Please send your 300-500 word abstract and a one-page CV as email attachments by June 9, 2014 to Mary Carney, University of North Georgia,

The 2014 SAMLA (South Atlantic Modern Language Association) conference will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 7-9, 2014. For more information, visit



From Meredith Goldsmith: Online Vote on Amendments to the By-Laws

We request a vote from Society members on two amendments to the by-laws of the EWS,  both discussed at MLA in January. The first involves adding the webmaster to the Exec Board ex-officio; the second modifies the term of the Editor of the _EWR_ from five years to three to five years. For the first, the rationale is to ensure good communication  between the webmaster, the Board, and the Society at large; the second is to allow for more frequent rotation of editors and to increase opportunities for participation in the journal.

In each case, please give a yes or no vote. Voting will close at the ALA in May.

Wharton in the News: From The Guardian (1936): Lillian Gish on portraying Charlotte in the stage version of The Old Maid

Lillian Gish

Edith Wharton’s novel “The Old Maid” is to be seen at the Opera House in the hands of a remarkably good cast. The play ended last night with long-continued applause, which had the effect of bringing back repeatedly the two great characters, Lillian Gish and Carol Goodner.

It is easy to be suspicious of chronicle plays which begin in the 1830s and end in the 1850s, particularly when they deal with old maids. The old maids who know everything are a nuisance, the ones who know nothing are worse. But here we have no type but a collection of human beings, having substance and feeling, in one of those situations with which Edith Wharton proved it is not necessary to have melodrama or murder to awake sensibility and make tragedy visible. The storm can rise as well in a teacup as elsewhere.

. . .

Miss Gish played her part with extraordinary skill, moving by the gentlest accretions from the ardent girl of the first act to the tortured, frightened woman preparing for her daughter’s wedding and shaken by her secret. Those who have tears to shed in the theatre could scarcely withhold them for her piteous state at the ending of this play.

Edith Wharton Collection at the Beinecke Library to close temporarily beginning in April 2014

From Gary Totten: 

Various Archival Collections to Close Temporarily Beginning in April 2014

Beginning in April 2014, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library will temporarily close various archival collections in preparation for a major building renovation scheduled to start in May 2015. In general, collections that are temporarily closed will be unavailable for six to eight weeks.

Researchers planning to visit the Beinecke should consult the library’s closed collections schedule beforehand to confirm the availability of desired materials. The schedule is currently subject to change, so researchers should check it frequently as they plan their visits.

Over the next year, the library will transfer about 12,000 cartons of collection material to an offsite shelving facility. This work requires the temporary closing of many of the library’s most important and frequently consulted archival collections. While temporarily closed, the collections will be unavailable for consultation in the reading room, classrooms, or for reproduction requests.

The temporary closings will be staggered throughout the year. Among collections slated to close in the spring of 2014 are the papers of Thornton Wilder, Eugene O’Neill, H.D., Langston Hughes, James Weldon and Grace Nail Johnson, and Edith Wharton. Collections to close in the fall of 2014 include the papers of Mable Dodge Luhan, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, and Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Julie Olin-Ammentorp: Visiting Edith Wharton’s Grave

Julie Olin-Ammentorp

Visiting Edith Wharton’s Grave


Edith Wharton’s grave

During the fall of 2012, when the Wharton Society collected funds to have the grave of Edith Wharton cleaned, I told Society officers that I would be in Paris in January 2013 and expected that I would have time to visit her grave in the Cimitière des Gonards in the town of Versailles; after all, I would be in Paris for a few days checking out various literary sites in preparation for a “Literary Paris” trip I would be taking students on the following year. In the end, though, my scant five days in Paris in 2013 did not give me enough time to make the trip to Versailles, even though it is less than an hour from Paris by train. Also mildly daunting was the task of finding the cemetery and Wharton’s grave; I had been to the Palace of Versailles and could find the cemetery relative to the Palace thanks to online maps, but looking at something on a computer screen is, of course, different from actually doing it.

In January 2014 I was luckier—and better organized. I would be spending ten days in Paris with my “Literary Paris” class. Moreover, one of the texts we had read was Wharton’s A Son at the Front, so that my students were familiar with Wharton’s biography and with a range of “Wharton” locations in Paris, from the very well-heeled Ave. Marigny, where Anderson and Julia Brant live, to the much scruffier regions of Montmartre, where John Campton has his studio. Moreover, our plans included a half-day trip to the Palace of Versailles. Thanks to a good travel agent, an amazingly skilled bus driver (at two different points he squeezed past parked trucks with about four inches to spare), and a helpful tour guide, the entire busload of students visited the Palace of Versailles and then proceeded to the Cimitière des Gonards. Happily, our guide, Catherine, had thought to check the hours of the cemetery ahead of time. It had never occurred to me that a cemetery might close during the lunch hour, but this being France, that was, in fact, the case: the entrance to the cemetery is closed between noon and 2 p.m. Our bus driver got us there by 11:40.

Then the adventure began. I knew that the cemetery was relatively small and had heard that Wharton’s grave was straight back from the entrance. How hard could this be, I thought? Once we got out of the bus, some of the students surged ahead through the entrance; the wise Catherine stopped at the little office inside the entrance and spoke to the gardien, the keeper of the place. This being 2014, the names of those interred are, of course, in a data base. She looked up “Wharton” and found nothing. I knew that the spelling of Wharton’s name is sometimes confusing to the French, and suggested the spelling “Warthon” instead (a much more French spelling). Still nothing. Knowing that she is buried near her dear friend Walter Berry, I suggested “Berry”—results at last! The gardien marked the location on a map (and shortly thereafter did locate Wharton’s actual gravesite in her records) and we were off.


EW’s grave with my “Literary Paris” students

The cemetery is relatively small, but still large enough that knowing the exact location of Wharton’s grave is necessary. We walked our way up to the correct location, past some imposing monuments, and found Wharton’s tomb, which as just as it is depicted in various photos, a solid, horizontal stone over her resting place. When I had originally thought of visiting, I had imagined going on my own or perhaps just with my husband, Warren, along; instead we were a group of twenty-two, including eighteen students. My students were interested to see her grave; the entire setting, with its graves close together and set with horizontal stones and its many mausoleums, was so different from the usual American idea of a cemetery—an open, grassy space with lots of trees, and with graves marked primarily by headstones—that the experience was, I think, culturally interesting to them rather than a solemn occasion. We flocked around Wharton’s grave to have our picture taken, the end of our detour-cum-pilgrimage.


Walter Berry’s grave

Warren and I also located Walter Berry’s grave. I had remembered from Wharton’s biographies that his grave was “next to” hers. Apparently my memory was not quite accurate: it is not located immediately next to hers, but three graves away. Still, there is no doubt that the two are very close. We were interested in and rather saddened by the state of Berry’s tomb, which is identical to Wharton’s in form, but not well cared for. Although his name is legible, the tomb is covered in a black moss or lichen, with tufts of green moss growing in spots. If this is what Wharton’s tomb looked like before the cleaning, what a huge improvement! It is now gleaming white with her name, dates, and her chosen inscription (“Ave Crux Spes Unica”) picked out neatly in black paint. Moreover, the small stones in the area immediately around the gravestone are nearly weed-free. Near the foot of the slab is one ceramic floral ornament of the type one often finds in French cemeteries; and one person had left a plastic-wrapped flower in tribute at the foot of the stone. It made me wish I had thought to do the same.

We were not there long; it was a pleasant visit, with the sun just starting to break out of the morning’s clouds. I had a brief moment to pause and realize how close I was to Wharton’s “mortal remains,” not a phrase often in my mind but one which suddenly swam to the surface of my consciousness as I stood by her grave. Then we returned to our warm bus and our cheerful bus driver and drove back into Paris.

* * *


Berry’s grave in the foreground, looking down the hill toward Wharton’s grave–Wharton’s is the beautifully cleaned one (almost a gold sheen on the stone)

A final thought: I am very glad that the Wharton Society collected funds for the cleaning of Wharton’s tomb; it is very fitting that we do so. I wonder whether this should perhaps become something we sponsor on a regular basis. We might also want to consider having Walter Berry’s tomb cleaned, or if anyone is aware of Berry descendents, we might want to alert them of the state of his tomb.

* * *

Location of the grave:


More or less the reverse angle; Wharton’s grave looking up hill toward Berry’s, although Berry’s is difficult to pick out in this photo.

Wharton’s grave is in the Cimitère des Gonards in the town of Versailles, which is located at 19, Rue de la Porte de Buc, 78000 Versailles. If you are traveling by train from Paris, note that the city of Versailles has two stations. The Versailles-Chantiers station is closest to the cemetery. (If you are going to the Palace of Versailles from Paris, take the RER C line to the station Versailles-Chateau-Rive Gauche.) GoogleMaps, which I consulted before I knew that the bus would be able to take us to the cemetery, gave me very reasonable walking directions from the Palace of Versailles to the cemetery. The walk would take about half an hour for the average walker.

Once in the cemetery, continue through the main entrance. Do not take your immediate left, but do take the following left, which slopes uphill. Follow this to the top of the hill, and then turn right. Wharton’s grave is in Canton (Section) D, Allee E, in the first row on the right; you will soon see it. Walter Berry’s tomb is just a little further along in the same row.

Of particular interest given Wharton’s many charitable activities during World War I and the centennial of the beginning of the Great War: the cemetery includes plots with graves of British soldiers, French soldiers from World War I and World War II, and even German soldiers. It also includes a small section of Muslim soldiers who died in the First World War. (See map.)

4571_001  Map of Edith Wharton’s Grave (.pdf file)

The cemetery includes the graves of some other notables, including Louis Blériot, who made the first airplane crossing of the English Channel in 1909, and Louis and Louis-François Cartier, of the famous Cartier jewelry company. The Wikipedia article on the cemetery is informative and includes a link to a French website about the cemetery.