Category Archives: In Memoriam

In Memoriam: Martha Banta

Via Alan Price:

Martha Banta, Distinguished Professor of English, Emerita, at the University of California, Los Angeles, died on March 31, 2020 at her home in Pasadena, where she had been convalescing after a fall. She was 91 years old. An iconoclastic and prolific scholar of American literature and culture, Professor Banta published eight books on a wide range of subjects, four of them since her retirement from teaching in 1998. At the time of her death, she had completed a ninth manuscript about Plato’s influence in literary history and had been working on a tenth, about the American love of “little wars.” Banta was throughout her career a scholar of Henry James, the subject of her first book, Henry James and the Occult, and wrote the introduction to one volume of his complete letters, a continuing project at the University of Nebraska Press. For Penguin and Oxford World Classics, Banta edited and introduced works by James, Edith Wharton, and Thorstein Veblen. She was also Associate Editor of the Columbia Literary History of the United States and Editor and contributor to The Harper American Literature anthology.

Read the rest at

In Memoriam: Barbara Comins

From Carole Shaffer-Koros:

Our colleague Barbara Comins has passed away. Here is a brief obit.

Barbara Comins, as a professional cellist, performed in various orchestras, playing with such luminaries as Luciano Pavarotti, Tony Bennett, and Frank Sinatra. Earning a doctorate in English, she taught college composition and literature and also co-designed and taught the Creativity Cluster at City University of New York’s LaGuardia campus, co-publishing an article about it titled “Artful Reading: Spontaneous Design.” She’s published poems in ​Visible Ink a​nd essays in ​Poetry Calendar,Medical Problems of Performing Artists, ​the travel section of ​The New York Times, Wallace Stevens Journal, Edith Wharton Review,​ and in the books ​Essays on Transgressive Readings, Divisions of the Heart: Elizabeth Bishop on the Art of Memory and Place, and ​“In Worcester, Massachusetts”: Essays on Elizabeth Bishop​. Recently, twenty of her paintings appeared in the solo exhibition Encounters​.

Whisper Gallery

In Memoriam: Helen Killoran (1941-2020)

The EWS has received word of the passing of Helen Killoran, a longtime EWS member and associate professor of English at Ohio University-Lancaster. Dr. Killoran was the author of Edith Wharton: Art and Allusion (1996), The Critical Reception of Edith Wharton, and other work.

Obituary for Helen Killoran: Helen_obit[1]

A tribute page is available at the link.!/Obituary

In Memoriam: George Ramsden

From Irene Goldman-Price:
Wharton scholars will be saddened to know of the death of George Ramsden
in Yorkshire, England, earlier this month.  George lovingly collected,
curated, and catalogued Edith Wharton’s library, which now is housed at
The Mount.  His years of dedication to this collection has enhanced
Wharton scholarship enormously and created a beating heart within
Wharton’s home in Massachusetts.  May he rest in peace.

In Memoriam: Elsa Nettels

Update 1/7/17: Information on Elsa Nettels and a memorial service at


Dear all,

The EWS has received word from Irene Goldman-Price that Elsa Nettels passed away peacefully this morning. EWS members and her many students at William and Mary knew Elsa as a wonderful scholar, friend, and mentor, generous to younger scholars and unfailing in her guidance. Further information and a picture will be added here as available.

Please feel free to leave your memories of Elsa in the comments or in the online Guestbook at

Donna Campbell

Shari (Benstock) Gabrielson Goodmann, December 2, 1944-May 26, 2015

From Irene Goldman-Price:

The Mount has received a memorial word about Shari Benstock for its blog.  Interested Society members can access it here:

This post was contributed by Shari’s friend, Suzanne Ferriss, PH.D., Professor of English at Nova Southeastern University.

Shari (Benstock) Gabrielson Goodmann, December 2, 1944-May 26, 2015

Wharton fans and scholars will note, with great sadness, the loss of Shari Gabrielson Goodmann, who recently passed away after a ten-year battle with early onset dementia. Under the name Shari Benstock, she published“No Gifts from Chance”: A Biography of Edith Wharton (1994), as well as a critical edition of The House of Mirth. Her meticulously researched biography challenged previous accounts, by R W B Lewis and others, to offer a more modern and complex portrait of the Pulitzer-prize winning author as a woman who “fashioned life to her own desires.”

[Read the rest at the link above]

Sad news for Wharton scholars: Shari Gabrielson Goodmann (Shari Benstock)

nogiftsFrom Irene Goldman-Price:

The Mount has received word yesterday from Tom Goodmann saying that his wife, Shari Gabrielson Goodmann, known to us as Shari Benstock, passed away early Tuesday morning, May 26th, quietly at home, following complications related to early-onset dementia, with which she was diagnosed in July 2004.  Many of us remember her as a bright light, and her work has been an important contribution to Wharton studies.  Tom can be reached at

 I hope you will post this on the list-serv.

Many thanks,