Category Archives: Queries

Wharton Queries: Wharton and Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn



Comment: Hello Nice People at the Edith Wharton Society,

I’m writing with a bit of an unusual request, but here goes. Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery and is the “permanent home” of some of New York City’s most well known figures of the 19th century. We often cite the famous authors, politicians, etc. who were known to have visited, including Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Ulysses S. Grant, Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith, and many more. It seems inconceivable that Miss Wharton would not have been at the cemetery for a funeral or burial at least once during her tenure in New York. Yet, we have no direct evidence of it. Might one of your scholars have something in her diaries or writings that would provide proof her visiting this historic cemetery?

We would be most grateful for your help,

All best,

Lisa Alpert

Director of Development and Marketing



New Query: Edith Wharton and Mary Gayley Senni correspondence?

Name: emanuela bruni
Comment: I am a journalist and I’m writing the story of Mary Gayley Senni, she realized in the 1931 the municipal rose garden in Rome and write on many rewiew about flower, I read on the web that in 1933 there was one of Edith Wharton and Senni an exchange of correspondence. Do you have any information on their relationship?
May we publish your name and email address?: Yes

New Query: Date of unpublished “Fiction and Criticism”?

Comment: Is there any speculation about the approximate date of Wharton’s unpublished “Fiction and Criticism,” reprinted in The Uncollected Writings (1997)? Even a decade (late 20s/early 30s)? Thanks so much!

Reply by dhefko:

n the second paragraph of “Fiction and Criticism,” Wharton quotes an article titled “Notes of a Novel Reader” from Volume 36 of _The Critic_, published in 1900. The time markers in the first two paragraphs of Wharton’s piece (“Not many years ago” and “A few years since”) suggest that the piece in _The Critic_ was fairly contemporaneous with Wharton’s critique of it. Based on these clues, it seems reasonable to suggest that Wharton wrote “Fiction and Criticism” within a few years of 1900—and probably no later than 1910.

New Query: Wharton to Berenson?

Could any one please confirm that these lines come from a letter Wharton sent to Berenson?
“You mustn’t think there haven’t been bits of blue sky all the same; there always are with me; I can hardly ever wholly stop having a good time!”
And where could I have the source of the quote?
Thank you!

Queries and Replies: Membership

I recently purchased a student membership with the Edith Wharton Society. I have received my email confirmation that my payment was processed. My question at this time is: is my Edith Wharton Society membership now valid? Also, will I received the next issue of the Edith Wharton Review in the mail? When can I expect it?

Thank you in advance,

Heather Degeyter

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Where would you like this to appear? : Queries and Replies

Yes, you should be enrolled as a member now, but you can always check with the Membership Coordinator to be sure:

The Edith Wharton Review is published in fall and spring, so you should receive the next issue.

Query about Edith Wharton Essay Prize and Undergraduate Prize

I’m inquiring regarding the Edith Wharton Essay Prize and the Edith Wharton Undergraduate Essay Prize. I see that the EWEP hasn’t been awarded since 2011. Is the prize being phased out, or is this merely a result of no submissions winning? If you are still accepting submissions for the EWEP, does the inauguration of the EWUEP signal that undergraduates may not apply for the EWEP at all, and must instead limit themselves to entries for the undergraduate prize? Or would you consider entries for the EWEP from undergraduates, provided they were of appropriate length and publication-ready?

Thank you very much for your time,

Alexander Kraft


The Edith Wharton Essay Prize page has been updated to reflect recent winners. Undergraduates wouldn’t be eligible because of this requirement: “Graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty members who have not held a tenure-track or full-time appointment for more than four years are eligible to submit their work.”

The Undergraduate Essay Prize began in 2014, and the requirements are here:

Thank you for your interest in these prizes.

Reply: Edith Wharton on Henry James’s asking for directions

From A Backward Glance

Another year we had been motoring in the west country, and on the way
back were to spend a night at Malvern. As we approached (at the close of
a dark rainy afternoon) I saw James growing restless, and was not
surprised to hear him say: “My dear, I once spent a summer at Malvern,
and know it very well; and as it is rather difficult to find the way to
the hotel, it might be well if Edward were to change places with me, and
let me sit beside Cook.” My husband of course acceded (though with doubt
in his heart), and James having taken his place, we awaited the result.
Malvern, if I am not mistaken, is encircled by a sort of upper
boulevard, of the kind called in Italy a strada di circonvallazione, and
for an hour we circulated about above the outspread city, while James
vainly tried to remember which particular street led down most directly
to our hotel. At each corner (literally) he stopped the motor, and we
heard a muttering, first confident and then anguished. “This–this, my
dear Cook, yes…this certainly is the right corner. But no; stay! A
moment longer, please–in this light it’s so difficult…appearances are
so misleading…It may be…yes! I think it IS the next turn…’a little
farther lend thy guiding hand’…that is, drive on; but slowly, please,
my dear Cook; VERY slowly!” And at the next corner the same agitated
monologue would be repeated; till at length Cook, the mildest of men,
interrupted gently: “I guess any turn’ll get us down into the town, Mr.
James, and after that I can ask–” and late, hungry and exhausted we
arrived at length at our destination, James still convinced that the
next turn would have been the right one, if only we had been more

The most absurd of these episodes occurred on another rainy evening,
when James and I chanced to arrive at Windsor long after dark. We must
have been driven by a strange chauffeur–perhaps Cook was on a holiday;
at any rate, having fallen into the lazy habit of trusting to him to
know the way, I found myself at a loss to direct his substitute to the
King’s Road. While I was hesitating, and peering out into the darkness,
James spied an ancient doddering man who had stopped in the rain to gaze
at us. “wait a moment, my dear–I’ll ask him where we are”; and leaning
out he signalled to the spectator.

“My good man, if you’ll be good enough to come here, please; a little
nearer–so,” and as the old man came up: “My friend, to put it to you in
two words, this lady and I have just arrived here from SLOUGH; that is
to say, to be more strictly accurate, we have recently PASSED THROUGH
Slough on our way here, having actually motored to Windsor from Rye,
which was our point of departure; and the darkness having overtaken us,
we should be much obliged if you would tell us where we now are in
relation, say, to the High Street, which, as you of course know, leads
to the Castle, after leaving on the left hand the turn down to the
railway station.”

I was not surprised to have this extraordinary appeal met by silence,
and a dazed expression on the old wrinkled face at the window; nor to
have James go on: “In short” (his invariable prelude to a fresh series
of explanatory ramifications), “in short, my good man, what I want to
put to you in a word is this: supposing we have already (as I have
reason to think we have) driven past the turn down to the railway
station (which, in that case, by the way, would probably not have been
on our left hand, but on our right), where are we now in relation to…”

“Oh, please,” I interrupted, feeling myself utterly unable to sit
through another parenthesis, “do ask him where the King’s Road is.”

“Ah–? The King’s Road? Just so! Quite right! Can you, as a matter of
fact, my good man, tell us where, in relation to our present position,
the King’s Road exactly IS?”

“Ye’re in it,” said the aged face at the window.