1999-2000 Queries

1999-2000 Queries and Student Queries

Queries Replies (Use the Reply Form)
Wharton’s Play Version of The House of Mirth  topSent: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 5:58 PM
Subject: Wharton’s play version of House of Mirth
I just learned that Edith Wharton wrote a play version of THE HOUSE OF MIRTH after she completed the novel. Can anyone tell me what year she wrote this play and if and where it was ever produced?
Thank you,
Jessica Wernerjwerner@act-sfbay.org
Dear Jessica Werner:
I think the following information may be what you need.  It was
compiled by Scott Marshall,  Vice-President and Deputy Director of the Edith  Wharton Restoration, who generously contributed it to my “Edith Wharton A to Z” (Facts on File, 1998), where it appears on p. 292.
The HOUSE OF MIRTH was co-dramatized by Edith Wharton and Clyde Fitch (Fitch also directed).  The production, starring Fay Davis as Lily Bart, opened at the Savoy Theater in New York City October 1906.  Others in the cast included Charles Bryant (Lawrence Selden), Jane Laurel (Gerty Farish), Albert Bruening (Simon Rosedale), Lumsden Hare (Augustus Trenor), Katherine Stewart (Mrs. Trenor), Charles Lane (George Dorset), Olive Oliver (Mrs. Dorset), Frank Dekum (Ned Silverton), Grant Mitchell (Percy Gryce), Isabel Richards (Evelyn Van Osburgh), Alan Allen (Wellington Bry), Florence Earle (Mrs. Wellington Bry).
Although it had succeeded in Detroit, where it was presented at
the Detroit Opera House on September 14, Wharton sensed that it was doomed to failure because she refused to let Lily Bart survive; it was, in fact, panned by critics.  The dramatization was published as The House of Mirth: The Play of the Novel, edited, with an introduction, notes, and appendices, by Glenn  Loney (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1981).
I hope this is helpful.
Sarah Bird Wright**************
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 22:54:26 -0800 (PST)Subject: Re: Wharton’s play version of House of Mirth
According to Shari Benstock’s _No Gifts From Chance_, “In November 1905 .. . she was also collaborating with popular New York playwright Clyde Fitch on a dramatic adaptation of _The House of Mirth_; he created the scenario, and she wrote the dialogue” (152). [. . . ] “In August, she and Clyde Fitch completed their script of _The House of Mirth_, and the play went into rehearsal.  On September 14, they were in Detroit for the opening.[…] But the New York opening at the Savoy Theatre on October 22 fell far short of success” (155).Benstock discusses the play and its reception at more length, but this gives some idea of the dates involved.Hope this helps.Donna Campbell
From: “S_shaloo” <S_Shaloo@email.msn.com>
Subject: Re: Wharton’s play version of House of Mirth
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 19:20:59 -0500Clyde Fitch did the play.  I think Wharton got billing as author, but my memory of the correspondence is that she didn’t write any of it.  It was produced.  Scribner’s printed the dramatic version.  Sorry don’t have the date handy.  Will be readily available on any library search.
Subject: Edith Wharton, E. Nesbit, and the Etruscans  top
I have a rather eclectic request.  Does anyone know of Wharton’s interest in or familiarity with Confucianism, the Etruscans, and/or E. Nesbit?  Edith Nesbit (1858-1924) lived in London.  Like Wharton she wrote novels and ghost stories, but she’s most well-known for her children’s literature.  Is it at all likely that Wharton would have read her work?
Wharton makes a metaphorical reference to the Etruscans in _A Backward Glance_.  Do they appear elsewhere in her writing?
Many thanks,
Daniel Hefko
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 19:48:03 -0400 (EDT)
To: Dhefko@aol.com
Cc: wharton-l@gonzaga.edu
I can’t address Confucianism or the Etruscans (though I think you might have a better shot on the Etruscans, since she loved Italy–she does have 2 texts on Italy you might look at), but I’m fairly sure she has no references to E. Nesbit (with whose work I’m slightly familiar).  In *A Backward Glance* she mentions a number of authors of children’s books, but Nesbit is not among them. (To some extent this is not useful; she’s remembering books *she* read as a child, so of course Nesbit would not be among them.)  Neither R.W.B. Lewis nor Shari Benstock (major biographies) has any listing for Nesbit, nor does her name (Nesbit’s) appear in the volume of *Letters* edited by the Lewises. An interesting speculation–but my guess would be that they never met, and it’s entirely possible they were unaware of each other.  Good luck! Julie Olin-Ammentorp
Edith Wharton’s Library topThis is a plea for help.  Some time during the past couple of weeks I saw an item about a bookseller who has been collecting books from Edith Wharton’s library and now has a catalogue available.  I foolishly deleted the item.  Any information you can give me would be much appreciated.Jane Millgate 1/14/00 I don’t know if it’s the person you read about, but a bookseller in York, England, named George Ramsden possesses what I believe is the bulk of Wharton’s personal library, and I know that over the past few years he’s been planning a catalogue. I’m afraid I no longer have his address, but I hope this helps. I think his shop is called Stone Trough.–Francis Morrone*********
Forgive this partial reply to query re:bookseller.  I believe the name of the dealer is George Ramsden.  I am more certain that he is the proprietor of a shop in York, Stone Trough Books.The INDEPENDENT ran an article perhaps 18 months (or a bit longer) ago on his collection, which was really an article about Hermione Lee, about her access to the collection, and perhaps an interview with her.My files are in several locations just now, and I can’t locate my copy of the Independent article, but you should be able to search and confirm the above information from U of Toronto.FYI, the bookseller wants to sell the collection as an entire and so is not taking bids on individual books.  I have heard he created a catalogue though I have never seen it.There is a list of books from EW’s library at the Huntington, and it may comprise all or perhaps comprises only the majority part of his collection, since I understood that he has been trying to add to his holdings over time. The list does not represent EW’s entire library, which apparently was not properly recorded before being split up after her death (sigh).Hope this helps.
Sharon Shaloo
The book can be found on Bibliofind (http://www.bibliofind.com):

Ramsden, George (compiler): : Edith Wharton’s Library; a catalogue. Settrington, Stone Trough Books, 1999 With a foreword by Hermione Lee. 25 x. 16.5 cm. xxxiii, 153 pp. Numerous b/w illustrations, 3 in colour. Cloth. In the glassine wrapper. Numbered edition of 350 copies. New. ‘A scholarly and very useful  catalogue’ Times Lit. Supp. ‘This catalogue is a revelation [of the mind of Edith Wharton]’ Order ref: 1.   Offered for sale by Stone Trough Books at £60.00

Edith Wharton for Children top
From: “medearis superfine”
Subject: Children’s books on Wharton or by Wharton
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2000 21:23:32 -0500My daughter, who is eight, will have the chance to portray a famous woman in a school event.  We talked over possible people she might pretend to be, and I suggested Edith Wharton.  She was fascinated by the idea.  I don’t seem to recall that Wharton wrote children’s books.  Can anyone correct me?  I am also interested in any recommendations for a book or even a chapter about her that would be suitable for a third grader.  Thank you.
Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2000 10:37:56 -0500 (EST)
From: Renee Tursi
Subject: Re: Children’s books on Wharton or by Wharton
You are to be commended for managing to interest an eight-year-old in
Wharton! I have two thoughts that, while not exactly what you might be
looking for, might nonetheless spark more ideas of your own.Wharton’s famous descriptions in her autobiographies (“A Backward Glance and “Life and I”) of her own childhood compulsion to tell stories simply by looking at the type on the pages of books she couldn’t yet read herself might engage children themselves. Also, in his biography of Wharton, RWB Lewis reprints a letter (pp. 385-86) she wrote to the precocious child of a friend regarding a stuffed parrot she was sending him for his birthday. It’s one of my favorite things she ever wrote, and it certainly illustrates her wonderful regard for children as reasonable, intelligent little beings — rather than as creatures who needed to be talked down to.A third thought: when Wharton received notice that her first stories were being published (not long after her marriage, I think) she ran up and down the stairs repeatedly in a frenzy of delight.
What great suggestions!I also think there was once a biography of EW published that was aimed at
younger readers, but I have not been able to locate it.  I remember seeing
it once at the house of a friend’s mother, and I assume it was published
some time ago.If anyone has that reference, would you post it to the list?Thanks.

Sharon Shaloo
The biography geared to younger readers referred to is THE TWO FACES OF EDITH WHARTON  by Grace Kellogg, (New York: Appleton Century, 1965).  It is really more for teenagers and older to read themselves…It is quite interesting as actually it is the first biography of Wharton…It opens with  a beautiful description of Wharton, a lonely child,finding the beautiful books in her father’s elegant library…You may have to read it with or to an eight-old but I think she will appreciate it.
Annette Zilversmit

Old New York: Publication History top
QUESTION: For an article on Edith Wharton and Short Story writing late 19th Century, could anyone please advise whether the 4 novellas “Old New York” were published originally as individual short stories. And if so when and where. Many thanks.
Charline Spektor      airplay@worldnet.att.net
From: SBWright@aol.com
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 20:15:02 EST
Subject: Serialization of *Old New York* novellasDear Charline Spektor:
The four *Old New York* novellas were published by Appleton’s in 1924 in  a boxed set.  All four had been serialized before publication, thanks to the  efforts of Rutger B. Jewett, W.’s editor at Appleton’s and one of her most  faithful supporters.   *The Old Maid* ran in *Redbook* (then called *The Red Book Magazine*) in Feb., Mar., and Apr. 1922.  *New Year’s Day* ran in the  same magazine in July and Aug. 1923.  *False Dawn* ran in the *Ladies’ Home Journal* in Nov. 1923, and *The Spark* was published in the *Ladies’ Home Journal* in May 1924.   Hope this helps —
Sarah Bird Wright
Date: Fri, 11 Feb 2000 10:07:09 -0400 (EDT)
From: “Olin-Ammentorp, Julie” <olinamme@maple.lemoyne.edu>
Subject: Re: Queries: Old New YorkThe best source on such queries is _Edith Wharton: A Bibliography_ by Stephen Garrison (Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1990).  According to Garrison, “The Old Maid” was published in Red Book Magazine in Feb-April 1922; “New Year’s Day” was pub. in Red Book Mag July & Aug 1923; “False Dawn” was pub. in Ladies’ Home Journal in Nov. 1923; “The Spark” was pub. in Ladies’ Home Journal in May 1924.
Julie Olin-Ammentorp
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 09:06:10 -0500
From: S_shaloo <S_Shaloo@email.msn.com>
Subject: Re: Queries: Old New YorkI just wanted to add to Julie’s very complete note that unlike other of EW’s collections, which happened after the fact, when she had published a certain number of pieces and felt that they would make a volume, OLD NEW YORK was developed as a collection. She first wrote OLD MAID and then NEW YEAR’S DAY, with a working title of, if memory doesn’t fail (and, alas, it often does these days) AMONG THE MINGOTTS.  That idea evolved into a four-novella collection, published as Sarah Wright mentioned, in four separate hardcover volumes that were also offered to the trade in a boxed set.  Wharton insisted on a very quick follow-up edition of the four novellas in one volume, but I don’t have the date of the edition at hand.
Wharton’s comment on living in Italy top
Date: Fri, 4 Feb 2000 11:06:52 EST
Dear Fellow Wharton Enthusiasts,
Hello, hello!  I’m trying to trace a comment Edith Wharton is alleged to  have made when asked about living in Italy.  Legend has it that she said  something witty (as ever) along the lines of “Why wouldn’t someone live in  Italy?” I would very much appreciate the source, and exact quotation, if  someone would be kind enough to post it, or e-mail me at Ktolch@aol.com.    Thanks for your consideration.
Yours in Wharton-philia,
Meaning of the Pelican in “The Pelican”top
NAME: Ms.supika yimlamai,  supika.1@email.com
QUESTION: I am doing my master degree in Thailand. I am now progressing my dissertation. I am studying one of Edith Wharton’s short story – The Pelican(1898). I wander if anyone can tell me how the name “The Pelican” related to the story.thanks a lot
Mrs Amyot pretends she sacrifices herself in order to provide for her son “the baby” (even when he is a baby no more) just as the Pelican (a bird with a very capacious beak for storing supplies for its young)could starve rather than eat what it has kept in store for its young.
Colette Collomb-Boureau, Université Lumière Lyon2, France.C.C.B.
I believe that there was also a legend (deriving from a misunderstanding of  this capacious beak)  that the pelican would nourish its young with blood drawn from its own breast.  The pelican thus signifies (ironically, in this case) maternal self-sacrifice.  –Donna Campbell
From: laura canis <lcanis@bw.edu>
House of Mirth endingHello, I just finished reading House of Mirth.  What a book.  What are your ideas on the “word” that Lawrence was coming to tell Lily on the morning of her death?  What could it be?  I’m dying to know!
Thanks, Laura Canis  (3/20/00)
This question generated so many responses that they have been placed on a separate page, “The Ending of The House of Mirth.”
Edith Wharton Quotation on Age
As program manager for the Elderhostel Institute Network (72,000
older adult learners)I am looking for a quote attributed to Edith Wharton
that refers to one living longer if one is unafraid of change and has an
insatiable intellectual curiosity.  Any help you can send my way would be
appreciated.  Thank you.Nancy Merz, Program Manager
dear Nancy Merz,I believe the quote to which you refer comes from Wharton’s “autobiography” _A Backward Glance_:”In spite of illness, in spite even of the arch-enemy sorrow, one *can*
remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid
of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways” (xix).Wise words those.
Hope this helps,Emily Orlando
University of Maryland
Dramatic Adaptation of “Xingu”
I have just discovered Edith Wharton’s short story “Xingu” and was completely taken with it.  In fact, I have been inspired to adapt it for the stage; I work as the literary manager for a small theater company in New York that works  to revive American plays from before 1914.  We also do look at works based on American literature of the period as well. To your knowledge, has anyone ever attempted an adaptation of the story prior to this?  I wanted to make sure there wasn’t already a version out there before starting.  Kimberly WadsworthThanks for your attention.
From: Dale Flynn <dbflynn@ucdavis.edu>
Subject: Re: Adaptation of “Xingu”?Kimberly–“Xingu” was adapted for the stage by Thomas Seller in 1939.  The
Dramatists Play Service holds the rights to it; it is readily
Serialization of The House of Mirth 
QUESTION: I am searching for information on the possible serialization of House of Mirth prior to its 1905 publication.  Was it serialized, perhaps in Scribner’s Magazine?  Any references that I can be directed towards would be greatly appreciated.   Wendy Foster wcfoster@interchange.ubc.ca
The House of Mirth was serialized in Scribner’s Magazine from January through November 1905. (Source: preface to The House of Mirth, ed. Elizabeth Ammons [New York: W.W. Norton, 1990], page ix.)
Hope this helps–
D. Campbell    5/20/00
New Movie Version of The House of Mirth
I have been trying to find information on the film version of House
of Mirth. I think the film was just screened at Cannes this year. I think it is
a British film and Gillian Anderson is starring in it. Can anyone suggest a web site that might have information on this film? I have checked many movie web sites and I have not found anything.
Information on the movie version is available at this site on Gillian Anderson (Lily Bart); thanks to Natalie Steckler for submitting this information. This link appears also on theWharton filmography page.
D. Campbell 5/28/00
Edith Wharton’s Creativity larryjunior75@hotmail.comQUESTION: My question is “Where do you think Edith Wharton was more creative?
in the countryside or in the city? She wrote novels in places ranging from the States to Paris . . . .  10/16/00
Edith Wharton and the GothicBelushi_Z47@hotmail.comQUESTION: I have a question regarding the Gothic nature of some of Edith Wharton’s stories.  In stories like “Pomegranate Seed” and “Afterward,” it seems as if the ‘terror’ is two-fold.  The circumstances of a woman in the upper class seem to be suffocating enough to set the stage for a gothic story. but it seems like subtextually that these women also bring about the terror from what they do (or don’t do) that is in a certain sense the impetus for the terror.  If anyone has any thoughts about this, it would be greatly appreciated!  10/15/00
New York Divorce Laws in 1913
QUESTION: I am preparing a class on the “Custom of the Country” and would like to know when the divorce law was voted in the State of New York. Any information on divorce at the time of Edith Wharton’s writing (around 1913) would be of great interest to me.Marie-Pierre Liny
Divorce details on her particular case could be hard to come by.  All of EW’s biographers say that she worked hard to keep the details under wraps and tried various stratagems so that the divorce would not be public.See also the  edition of her letters.
An archive that might prove helpful is the New York State legal resources archive at

Queries Page: 1999

Subject: Social Role of Women   top
I am going to write my Master’s thesis on ‘The social role of women in American novels at the turn of the century, especially on Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth (and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening)‘ I would like to know if there is already any literature on that specific or similar topics. I am also looking for literature that concerns the cult of domesticity (women as the angel of the house, as passive and decorative objects) in the House of Mirth (and The Awakening). Since it is more difficult to find English-written literature on these topics in Germany I would be very thankful for any information,
Beate Kvrner
Talking about ” The Awakening “, Kate Chopin shows an individuality and strengh remarkable for upper -middle-class women of the time , dealing with marriage and perspective on the theme.
Her characters face dilemma between what society expects of women and what they really want to for themselves , not society .
The protagonist , Edna , places herself as the individual against society to protect her own life , only to egnore her husband and children .
At first reading , I was a little shocked at her way of life unlike her good friend absorbing in taking care of her family.
No wonder ” The  Awakening ” cause scandale .Now I’m reading ” Ethan Frome ” by Edith Wharton ,who has many similarity to Chopin .
Both of them treats with women in their many storiesNoota 5-15-04
Subject: Meaning of inscription on Wharton’s gravestone  top
What does the inscription on Edith Wharton’s gravestone mean? In Latin it is, I believe “Ave Crux Spes Unica” — how does this translate in English?  Thank you.
ghardcastle 8/18/99
Shari Benstock’s biography of Wharton, No Gifts from Chance, answers this question in describing Wharton’s grave: “Inscribed on an embossed cross was the Latin phrase she had chosen for her epitaph: O Crux Ave Spes Unica–O Hail Cross, Our Only Hope” (459). D. Campbell, 8/20/99
Subject: Wharton’s “Hymn of the Lusitania”   topDuring World War I, Wharton wrote a poem entitled “Hymn of the Lusitania.”  Stephen Garrison’s very useful (and generally very reliable) _Edith Wharton:  A Descriptive Bibliography_ lists the publication of this poem in the New  York Herald, 7 May 1915, p. 1.  But my search of the Herald did not turn  this up; in fact, the Lusitania was sunk on 7 May 1915, and the headline on  8 May 1915 concerns its sinking.  I have examined the Herald for the following couple of weeks but have had no luck.  If you have any information  about the correct date of publication, I’d appreciate it greatly.  Email me  at wjwjoa@msn.com or at olinamme@maple.lemoyne.edu  .  Many thanks to anyone  with information!  Julie Olin-Ammentorp 7/26/99 It might be in the Paris edition of the Tribune … we’re doing a collection of EW’s poems here in the Library of America’s “American Poets Project” series and we’re now looking for this one as well.Matt Parr, mparr@loa.org 3/1/05
Subject: Edith Wharton Question for Biography Magazine (fwd)  topMy name is Alice Cary and I write a monthly question and answer column for Biography Magazine. I am researching the origin of the phrase “Keeping Up With the Jones,” which was also the name of a comic strip in the early part of this century.  One source, however, “100 Years of Newspaper Comics,” says that illustrator Arthur “Pop” Momand heard the phrase as it was often applied to Edith Wharton’s parents, George and Lucretia Jones. Do you know anything about this?  I very quickly skimmed through some pages of a few Wharton biographies and saw no mention of this. Also, other standard references mention only the Momand comic strip, not Wharton’s parents.  I’d appreciate any insights you or other members of the Edith Wharton Society might be able to offer.  Thank you.Best, Alice Cary
According to Shari Benstock’s No Gifts from Chance, “Sometime before she was three years old, Edith visited her father’s stern, unmarried sister, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, at Wyndcliffe, her eighty-acre estate on the Hudson River.  Elizabeth, too, had suffered a terrible illness in childhood, but her parents saved her from the tuberculosis that had killed two of her siblings by shutting her away for nine months in the Mercer Street family house in Lower Manhattan.  They sealed the windows of her bedroom and kept the fireplace lit; by these drastic measures, Elizabeth Jones survived into hardy adulthood and became a ‘ramrod-backed old lady compounded of steel and granite.’  In 1852, she built a twenty-four-room turreted villa, the most expensive house ever before built in Rhinecliff, New York.  Such display of wealth, it was said, gave rise to the expression ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ (26). Benstock  gives as her source a New York State Conservation Association pamphlet on the house, p. 157.  D. Campbell, 8/20/99
Subject: Request: Discussion Questions for _Summer_   topI am the discussion leader for a book club reading Wharton’s
‘Summer.’ Can someone send me a list of discussion questions? I have not yet read the book and would like to have the questions to think over as I read. Thank you for your time.
Amber Puzey
[Note: The responses appear at summerdisc.html] If you would like to add more questions, please e-mail them or use the Reply Form.
From: Beth Friedmann <fried004@tc.umn.edu>   topSubject: Edith Wharton quoteIf anyone knows the source of the quote
“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that receives it”, please contact me.  I have exhausted all print and electronic sources.  Your help would be greatly appreciated!Thanks in advance!
The original source for this on the Internet seems to be the Creative Quotations website post for 1/24/99:Reflecting:
There are two ways of spreading light: To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.At the Creative Quotations website, it is attributed to Artemis to Actaeon, 1909.  It is actually a quotation from a poem in that volume, “Vesalius in Zante.”
D. Campbell  10/3/99
Subject: Amor Fati  top
I am looking for a text by Edith Wharton entitled
“Amor Fati”. It is a non-fiction essay which was quoted in a book on the subject of regret. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with Edith Wharton’s ouevre and wondered if anyone could e-mail me with the source of this essay. Sadly, the author of the above mentioned book on regret did not provide an exact citation. Thank you.Curtis Price
Mr. Price:  I have done a quick check in 5 good sources, and have found nothing by that title.  The sources are Stephen Garrison’s Edith Wharton:A Descriptive Bibliography, the most complete listing of her works;R.W.B. Lewis’ biography of Wharton; Shari Benstock’s biography of Wharton(No Gifts from Chance), Cynthia Griffin Wolff’s work on Wharton (A Feast of Words), and Frederick Wegener’s recent volume, Edith Wharton:The Uncollected Critical Writings.  Sorry I can’t be of more help.  Julie Olin-Ammentorp    8/31/99
Critical Edition of The Age of Innocence  top
I was wondering if there was a critical edition or any annotations or annotated guide to The Age of Innocence.  I assumed there would be, but I have been unable to track one down.  Thanks. Chris Williams  9/4/99
In response to the inquiry below, I recently was told by a Norton representative that a critical edition is forthcoming edited, I believe, by Elizabeth Ammons.  Another list member might have more info.
Emily Orlando.    9/5/99Dear Chris Williams,
I have just edited The Age of Innocence for the New Riverside Series, publ. by Houghton Miflin. It includes extensive annotation on the text  (streets, clothing, flowers, opera, architecture, etc.); background readings on travel, divorice, anthropology, the art museum, sports; selected critical readings; and an introduction.  It should appear this Jan.  The Penguin ed. includes notes and an intro.  The Cambridge ed. includes study guides.
Carol Singley  9/6/99
Edith Wharton’s Verses.  top
Does anyone know how to get a hold of a copy of Wharton’s collection of poetry called Verses?  The Yale library only has an incomplete version.  E Johansen  10/26/99
The complete manuscript of Verses is reprinted in Edith Wharton: Selected Poems (The Library of America, 2005) edited by Louis Auchincloss.He notes, “The copy of Wharton’s Verses used in preparing this edition, from the Morgan Library, includes five handwritten emendations of apparant typographical errors. . . these emendations have been adopted in the present volume.”Dan Hefko
Midlothian, VA
To E. Johansen:  I believe Verses, by Edith Wharton, is one of the rarest of all her books.  The Clifton Waller Barrett Library, Special Collection Department,  Alderman Library, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, has a complete copy.  As you probably know, it was printed privately by Lucretia Jones in 1878.  The printer was C. E. Hammett, Jr., in Newport, R.I. The Newport Historical Society may also have a copy.  I would be interested to know what others you find.
All the best —
Sarah Bird WrightIf memory serves me correctly, about 10 years ago when I was writing my dissertation I was able to get a copy through inter-library loan.  I think it came from UVa.  Whoever it was sent a microfilm copy for me to keep–it’s still on my shelf at home.  I see by checking the WorldCat database that several libraries around the country own it, either in hard copy or microfilm.  If you haven’t already asked your inter-library loan librarian for help, that’s where I’d go.  — Anne Fields
10/27/99Note: Edith Wharton’s Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse, a volume of poems, is available in a reprint version from Classic Books. Also, many of Wharton’s poems (but not Verses) are available on the Wharton’s Works page at this site.  –D. Campbell 5/9/00
Edith Wharton’s “Terminus”   top
I am trying to find EW’s poem “Terminus” to no avail.  Does anyone know if perhaps it is embedded in a novel or short story?  Thank you.
Lisa Lopez   10/27/99
“Terminus” is reprinted in R. W. B. Lewis’s biography of Edith Wharton, pp. 259-260.  — Sarah Bird Wright   10/28/99This poem is included in the newly-published, two-volume “American Poetry: The Twentieth Century”, by Library of America.
Marjorie A. Zitomer  3/31/00It is also available here.
Sales Figures for Age of Innocence  top
I’m writing a paper about how _The Age of Innocence_ was  received by the reading public in the 1930s. Does anyone know where I can find annual sales figures for that novel, as compared to its sales in the 1920s. I don’t necessarily need concrete numbers, even the general trend would be sufficient.Thanks so much to anyone who can help,Greg Kochansky     kochnsky@princeton.edu
Re royalties for “The Age of Innocence”:
Many of the royalty statements from Appleton’s are in the Beinecke; YCAL  MSS
42.  The index gives the following information:
“Series III, Professional Correspondence (Boxes 31-39), consists primarily of letters to and from publishers, magazine editors, professional
organizations, booksellers, and individuals writing to Wharton principally
about her literary work (translations, interpretations, dramatizations,
permissions for quoting or reprinting, etc.). Most revealing, perhaps, are the
extensive files from her publishers and agents: Charles Scribner’s Sons (1905-1937), Curtis Brown, Ltd. (1919-1928), Macmillan and Co. (1905-1930), and D.Appleton and Co. (1916-1937). The correspondence in these files tells much about her concerns with contracts and royalties, revisions, printers’ errors, etc.”
If you can go up to Yale, I believe you can assess the difference in
royalties for “The Age of Innocence” between the 1920s and the 1930s by searching for Appleton’s royalty statements in Boxes 31-39 and also in Box 52, which also, I think, has some royalty statements from Appleton’s.  They are probably incomplete, but, even so, you may be able to make a useful estimate.
I hope this is of some help —
Sarah Bird Wright   12/6/99
Authoritative Biography of Wharton  top
QUESTION: I’m working on a research report on Edith Wharton and would like opinions on the following two questions: 1) Is R.W.B. Lewis’s biography still considered the most authoritative/standard biography? and 2) who is the foremost active expert on Wharton?
> Thanks.  Joan Petit  joanpetit@earthlink.net
Of course this is only one opinion, but I jumped in on this query because I wanted the chance to say how much I value the Lewis biography.  It is really first-rate.  Wasn’t it Mainwaring who criticized some lapses/mistakes in Lewis in an article published some time ago in, I think, TLS (help Wharton-L!  Is that right?).  I have to say, however, that I didn’t find the criticisms interfered in any way with my profound respect for what Lewis did for EW.That said, I think you really must add Shari Benstock’s bio to Lewis’s to get the most comprehensive view.  NO GIFTS FROM CHANCE is fine work indeed.Wharton studies is alive and well, and I don’t think anyone would want to try to name a single figure who is most prominent in the field, but I think if you visit the Wharton website you will find a reasonable bibliography to get you started. [Note: An index to the Edith Wharton Review and a bibliography of recommended works on Wharton are both available at this site.]Sharon Shaloo  12/13/99
From: “Olin-Ammentorp, Juli” <olinamme@maple.lemoyne.edu>
Subject: Re: Edith Wharton Queries (fwd)

I’d agree with Sharon Shaloo’s assessment.  Lewis remains very important! But you should absolutely read Benstock.  Among other things, her biography is documented in painstaking detail, which makes it possible not only to figure out how she came to her conclusions, but also to find the original documents from which she was working in case there are issues on which you want more information.  She also includes new information, for example on Wharton’s adoption of 4 boys during World War I, and challenges some “myths” about Wharton (e.g. that Wharton had a nervous breakdown and was treated by S. Weir Mitchell).  It’s also eminently readable!  Happy reading.  Julie Olin-Ammentorp         12/14/99

Dear Joan Petit:

I am the founder of the Edith Wharton Society fourteen years ago and editor  of the EDITH WHARTON REVIEW until this year.  Following are my evaluations:

RWB Lewis’s biography is still one of the best but he is by no means the  leading authority on Wharton…There isn’t any one person. There are three  other good and more feminist biographies written subsequently…Feast of  Words by Cynthia Griffin Wolff;  Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life by  Eleanor Dwight: and No Gifts from Chance by Shari Benstock.

There are two interesting studies of Wharton:
The Sexual Education of Edith Wharton by Gloria Erlich
Wharton’s Inner Circle by Susan Goodman

Two good essay collection essay collections are:
Edith Wharton:New Critical Essays
ed. by Alfred Bendixen and Annette Zilversmit

A Forward Glance by Clare Colquitt, Susan Goodman and Candace Waid.

There are more than three hundred scholars who are part of Wharton Society  and each one is an authority in some area..

Trust you own readings and interpretations when you work on a writer…

Hope I have been of some help.
Annette Zilversmit

Wharton Stories Set in Italy   top
Besides the much-anthologized “Roman Fever,” which of Wharton’s short stories are set in Italy? I would like to include several of her stories on the reading list for a course for students studying abroad in Rome. Charlotte Meyer   meyer@edgewood.edu
Université Lyon-2, France
email address : colette.collomb-boureau@univ-lyon2.frI think most of “Souls Belated” takes place in Italy. Part of “The Muse’s
Tragedy”, maybe. I’ll keep looking. Best wishesC.C.B.          12/16/99
*******From: Judith Funston
Subject: Re: Wharton Stories Set in ItalyMy addition:  “The Duchess at Prayer”    12/18/99


Queries Replies
Edith Wharton’s PoetryNAME: Lisa Mezzani
rdmezzani@iol.itQUESTION: I’m about to start working on my final college paper, which should deal with the first verses and poetry written by Edith Wharton. As I’m familiar  only with her novels, I would like to know whether
these works have been collected and published.
Any information on E.W.’s first poems will be greatly appreciated.
Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verse should be available in libraries; it’s a reprint version of Wharton’s published poems.
An essay on Wharton’s poems is available in Alfred Bendixen and Annette Zilversmit’s collection of essays on Wharton (1992).

Good luck with your project.
D. Campbell

The Greater Inclination
Hello,      I am going to write an essay on Edith Wharton’s “The Greater Inclination”(I took a course entitled The American Short Story).
The purpose of this essay is to look at how Wharton’s early collection of short stories fits in with the rest of her (later) work.
So far, I have only been able to find some information on “The Pelican” and it seems there is not much written about the collection as a whole.
I would like to know if there are any books/links that discuss “The Greater Inclination” as an significant work of literature by Wharton.
I would greatly appreciate your help.Best regards,Mirjana van Zeijderveld mirjana@dds.nl
Note: This question has been reposted from the Queries page because it is a common question about the novel. –D. CampbellFrom: laura canis <lcanis@bw.edu>
House of Mirth endingHello, I just finished reading House of Mirth.  What a book.  What are your ideas on the “word” that Lawrence was coming to tell Lily on the morning of her death?  What could it be?  I’m dying to know!
Thanks, Laura Canis  (3/20/00)
This question generated so many responses that they have been placed on a separate page, “The Ending of The House of Mirth.”
Weddings in Edith Wharton’s Fiction
From: Gina Colagiovanni <gmc24@hotmail.com>Hello.  My name is Gina.  I am currently in a graduate course that is
studying authors, such as Edith Wharton, as well as the the time period of late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  I have chosen to write a paper regarding weddings from this time period.  I am having a difficult time finding facts about what a wedding would have looked like at this time.  If you have any information at all (web sites, book titles, magazines)it would be very helpful to me.  Thanks very much!Gina
One book that may be helpful to you is this one from the Recommended Books list. The annotation is from that list, too.Montgomery, Maureen E.  Displaying Women: Spectacles of Leisure in Edith Wharton’s New York.  New York: Routledge, 1998.  More a treatment of  Wharton’s cultural context than a close reading of her fiction, but a valuable resource for anyone interested in the New York of 1870 to 1920.Montgomery uses a number of primary sources in her discussion, so the bibliography as well as the text of the book would probably be helpful to you.  Good luck with your project. –D. Campbell
Age of Innocence: Film and BookI am a university student who has to do a paper on the Age of Innocence on the following subject. “By what methods do the film and the novel create atmosphere? How does the atmosphere of each contribute to the audience’s sense of what the title means?” (We are studying the 1990s film)I am at a lost to find information to back up my ideas. If anyone could help it would be greatly appreciated.
Nicole Yule
The bibliographies at the EWS site include these articles, which may be useful to you:
Helmetag, Charles H. “Recreating Edith Wharton’s New York in Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence.” Literature/ Film Quarterly
26.3 (1998): 162-65.Marshall, Scott. “Edith Wharton on Film and Television: A History and Filmography.” Edith Wharton Review 13.2 (1996): 15-26.Peucker, Brigitte. “Rival Arts? Filming The Age of Innocence.” Edith Wharton Review 13.1 (1996): 19-22.D. Campbell
Custom of the Country Film and Edith Wharton and Henry JamesQUESTION:
This year, we are studying “The custom of the country” and I would like to know if there is a film version of this work. Also, Edith Wharton was said to be very close to Henry James, do you think we can find links or is there any allusions to one of Henry James’works? At least, have there been studies about similarities in attitude in Wharton’s or James’ heroines?          Olivia Navarro
According to the Internet Movie Database, there hasn’t been a movie made of  The Custom of the Country.A great deal has been written about Edith Wharton’s friendship with Henry James and the effect that this had on their work.  You might try any of the biographies on the Recommended Works page athttp://www.gonzaga.edu/wharton/whlbib.htmA good source is Millicent Bell’s Edith Wharton and Henry James: A Story of their Friendship.

D. Campbell 9/28/00

Roman Fever” and “The Other Two” 
I am doing a critical analysis paper on Edith Wharton’s “The Other Two’ and “Roman Fever”. I was wondering if you knew of any resources that that critique either of those two works? If so could you please respond to me promptly. I thank you in advance for doing so. Have a great day!                                                Tim Caulder
Many of the books on the Recommended Bibliography list contain analyses of these two stories.Here are two books that focus on the short stories:White, Barbara A. Edith Wharton: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1991.Fracasso Evelyn E. Edith Wharton’s Prisoners of Consciousness : A Study of Theme and Technique in the Tales  Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1994.

You could also check these books for suggestions:

Lauer, Kristin, and Margaret Murray, eds.  Edith Wharton: A Bibliography. New York: Garland, 1989.

Wright, Sarah Bird.Edith Wharton A to Z: The Essential Guide to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1998.

Here are some of the resources listed for both works at the Wharton Society site and elsewhere. Suggestions for obtaining these are available on the Frequently Asked Questions page.

    • Berkove, Lawrence I. “‘Roman Fever’: A Mortal Malady.” CEA Critic 56.2 (1994): 56-60.
    • Sweeney, Susan Elizabeth. “Edith Wharton’s Case of Roman Fever.” Wretched Exotic: Essays onEdith Wharton in Europe. Eds. Katherine Joslin and Alan Price. American University Studies XXIV:American Literature (AmLit), New York, NY. Series No: 53. New York: Peter Lang, 1993. 313-31.
    • Petry, Alice Hall. “A Twist of Scarlet Silk: Edith Wharton’s ‘Roman Fever.'”Studies in Short Fiction 24, no. 2 (1987): 163-166
    • Mortimer, Armine Kotin. “Romantic Fever: The Second Story as Illegitimate Daughter in Wharton’s ‘Roman Fever’.”Narrative 6.2 (1998): 188-98.
    • Inverso, Mary Beth. “Performing Women: Semiotic Promiscuity in ‘The Other Two’.” Edith Wharton


      10.1 (1993): 3-6.
The Custom of the Country
I’m working on this novel and would like to have some information on it
(critics, etc…) Thanks
It’s best to do your research and check the resources in your library first before posting a general question to a discussion list; otherwise, the information may not address your needs.
Edith Wharton and Italy.
I’m an Italian student.I’m studying languages at university, I’d like to write my graduation thesis on Edith Wharton and her success in Italy. I’m especially interested in critical comments or conferences about this subject. I’m also interested in finding material concerning E.Wharton and Italy in general. I thank right now all the people that want to help me.
Thank you.           daniela Reolon dare@inwind.it 
Critical Reviews on Ethan FromeQUESTION:  I really need some help. I just read the book Ethan Frome and it was a great book but now I am a little stuck. I have to write a 5 page summary/review of the book using critical reviews from PHD’s online but I can not find even one. If anyone can help please email me and your help is needed greatly. Thanx in advance!Lainie Shorty82@starplace.com There probably won’t be critical reviews online from Ph.D.’s in most disciplines, because most college and university professors in the humanities publish their work in print journals.  Unlike most web pages, each article that’s published in a journal has to go through a process called “peer review” in which other scholars read the work and decide whether it is worth publishing or not. Although scholars are not paid for the publication of their work in academic journals, their reputations depend on having their work reviewed by their peers, and most Wharton scholars, at least, would be reluctant to put their work on the web until it has appeared in print. Some scholars do put their work on the web after it has been published.Although there are some peer-reviewed journals on the web, general essays on the web (at least in American literature) are usually not yet as highly regarded as those that appear in print, though there are exceptions. If a web journal is peer-reviewed, it will say so, and it will probably charge a fee.Some sources on the web do reprint articles from reputable journals, however.  If you are a college or university student and your library subscribes to UnCover, Expanded Academic Index, ProQuest, Project Muse, or another such service, you will be able to find the articles you seek.If you are not affiliated with a college or university, you can also do a search at a commercial site such as www.northernlight.com, which provides articles from reputable journals like Studies in American Fiction for prices ranging from $1 to $4 apiece.  Northernlight has several articles on Edith Wharton available, although I don’t recall whether those are on Ethan Frome.
–D. Campbell  11/2/00
Conformity and Social Climbing in The Custom of the Country
EMAILADDRESS: lyace.metallaoui@wanadoo.frQUESTION: I have an essay to do on The Custom of the Country.The subject is:”conformism and social climbing” or in French:”conformisme et arrivisme”.Can you help me?Hi,my name is Lyace and I’m studying English in France.This year The Custom of the Country is on the syllabus,and I have an essay to do on “conformism and social climbing” (or in French “conformisme et arrivisme”).I have found many sources but the problem is that I can’t find a good plan (we’re not allowed to write one part on conformism and another one on social climbing).Could you help me please?
Thank you very much!!
Your teacher will be the best source for finding out how the paper could
be structured.  One way might be to look at how “conformism” is related to
social climbing: must one conform in order to succeed at social
climbing?  You might look at specific instances of this in the text.11/11/00
Edith Wharton and the Theme of Money QUESTION: I’m writing a short paper on the underlying theme of money that appears in many of Wharton’s works. I will be focusing especially on how her work can be viewed as an allegory for the economic change around the country that led to the market crash in ’29.  I’d love if anyone could point me in the direction of criticisms that address money in her novels, especially Custom of the Country, Old New York, Glimpses of the Moon, or the House of Mirth.
Thanks so much!Jessica Marsden
Many of the books on Wharton address this issue.  There is a short bibliography of works derived from the MLA Bibliography on this issue at
House of Mirth: Did the Serial have the Same Title?
QUESTION: I am having trouble reconciling the chronology of Wayne Westerbrook’s “HoM and the Insurance Scandal of 1905” (Am.Notes&Q,May 76, p. 134-7) with HoM publishing history.  Westerbrook argues that EW availed herself of the topicality of the phrase “House of Mirth” from the 1905 scandal, which he dates early in that year, HoM appearing in book form later.However, HoM appeared in Scribner’s Mag. beginning in January, 1905, did it not?  Was it not titled House of Mirth then?  If so, then Westerbrook has the cart before the horse.Elucidation would be much appreciated.My paper, by the way, is on gambling in HoM.TIA
Mike Skupin
You’re right–The House of Mirth began its serial run in Scribner’s in January 1905, and it was called The House of Mirth.  Wharton had not yet finished writing the book (Benstock 149), but this was the experience that she said later taught her the value of the “discipline of the daily task” and turned her into a professional writer.Although the work had had different working titles, most famously “A Moment’s Ornament,” the current title was already in use in 1905.
–D. Campbell*****
Note: If readers of this page know the date at which EW changed her title from “A Moment’s Ornament” to the current one (which, as many have noted, is from Ecclesiastes 7:4: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”), please add that information to this page.
Custom of the Country Topics
QUESTION: I’d like some information about the following topics:
– the market
– the deal
– the deal
– the marriage
– the mirror
– the excess
– the social classes
in “The Custom Of The Country” Edith wharton
Thank you
NAME: Nathalie
EMAILADDRESS: lalieetgilou@aol.com
Information on these topics is available in the articles listed in the bibliography on The Custom of the Country at
http://www.gonzaga.edu/faculty/campbell/enl413/custom.htmlOther readers of this page may respond with more specific suggestions; if you would like to reply, please add your information to this page.
Source of Wharton Quotation on Woman’s Nature and Rooms
NAME: Rachel
QUESTION: I cannot seem to find the entire quote by Edith Wharton referring to the “rooms” of a woman’s personality.  All I can remember is the ending of the quote: “…and in the innermost room…the holiest of holies…the soul sits alone and waits for the footsteps that never come.”
Does anyone know what this is from — short story? novel? comment to a friend?
— and where I can find it?  (12/1/00)
This is from “The Fulness of Life” (part II) (December 1893) and is available online in the Early Stories of Edith Wharton, vol. 2. In the story, a woman dies and reflects on her marriage as she talks about her life with the Spirit of Life.  Here is the relevant passage from the story:”You have hit upon the exact word; I was fond of him, yes, just as I was fond of my grandmother, and the house that I was born in, and my old nurse.  Oh, I was fond of him, and we were counted a very happy couple.  But I have sometimes thought that a woman’s nature is like a great house full of rooms: there is the hall, through which everyone passes in going in and out; the drawing- room, where one receives formal visits; the sitting-room, where the members of the family come and go as they list; but beyond that, far beyond, are other rooms, the handles of whose doors perhaps are never turned; no one knows the way to them, no one knows whither they lead; and in the innermost room, the holy of holies, the soul sits alone and waits for a footstep that never comes.””And your husband,” asked the Spirit, after a pause, “never got beyond the family sitting-room?””Never,” she returned, impatiently; “and the worst of it was that he was quite content to remain there.  He thought it perfectly beautiful, and sometimes, when he was admiring its commonplace furniture, insignificant as the chairs and tables of a hotel parlor, I felt like crying out to him: ‘Fool, will you never guess that close at hand are rooms full of treasures and wonders, such as the eye of man hath not seen, rooms that no step has crossed, but that might be yours to live in, could you but find the handle of the door?'”

This version of the Early Short Stories (volumes 1 & 2) are newly  available at the Wharton Society Site, so in the future, a search of the site for certain phrases should turn up the right quotation.
D. Campbell, 12/2/00

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s