2003-2004 Queries

Poster of Edith Wharton? 
QUESTION: Does anyone know if there is a poster of Edith Wharton suitable for framing?

michael longrie longriem@uww.edu


Christopher Gair on The House of Mirth 
QUESTION: I am writing a paper on The House of Mirth.  In one of the articles I read, C. Gair quotes Ralph Marvell of The Custom of the Country re: the only way to remain pure is to perish.  This statement is not in quotation marks, so I assume it is a paraphrase.  Can someone tell me what the full quote is or where I can find it in the book? Jennifer Wilson


Custom of the Country in French?QUESTION: I am trying to find out if The Custom of the Country has been translated into French. I would very much like to send my cousin a copy if it is available. Does anyone know if it has been done? I have called bookstores, searched Amazon’s French division, talked to librarians and turned up nothing conclusive. If anyone has a good source for Wharton’s works in other languages, I would very much appreciate it. Chris Kellett 10/3/03 “The Custom of the Country” has been translated in French under the name “Les beaux mariages” (anonymous poster)


I believe I saw a French translation of *Custom of the Country* in one of the two English-language bookstores on Rue de Rivoli during my trip to Paris in early June 2003. As for its title, I cannot recall it, but I do believe it was in “la literature anglo-saxon” section. I apologize for such imprecise information; contacting either store could help. Billy Clem, womearaclem at yahoo.com 11.2.03


Wharton’s Essay on Flaubert

QUESTION: I would like to know the bibliography of the essay Edith Wharton wrote about Gustave Flaubert. Thank you.


Wyndcliffe and “Keeping up with the Joneses”

QUESTION: Hi, I am a journalist writing an article about Wyndcliffe, the Rhinebeck, NY manor of Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, Edith Wharton’s paternal aunt. Previous postings on the list indicate that Wyndcliffe might be the origin of the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses,” because the mansion was the biggest home in the area at the time it was built. I’ve also heard that Edith Wharton’s parents’ lavish lifestyle and wealth was the source of the phrase.
Does anyone know what the origin of the phrase “Keeping up with the Joneses” is? Is there any consensus whether Wyndcliffe is indeed the origin of the phrase?
Rachel Silverman

See the Queries 1999 page for one answer, but more information about this would be very welcome. Here’s what it says:

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,

QUESTION: The name of the property in Rhinebeck, New York where Edith Wharton stayed with her aunt when she (Edith Wharton) was a young girl.

Miriam Carroll

This is probably Wyndcliffe. Here’s what our FAQ page has to say:

Wyndcliffe. Edith Wharton’s aunt, Elizabeth Schermerhorn Jones, built a 24-room house called Wyndcliffe in Rhinebeck in 1852. Legend has it that this is the source of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Pictures and descriptions are available on the Web at http://www.hudsonvalleyruins.org/yasinsac/wyndcliffe/wyndcliffe.html .
A collection of drawings, pictures, and maps is available at the American Memory Home Page. Note: A stable URL is not available for this page; click on the link and type “wyndcliffe” in the search box.


QUESTION: I’m writing a short piece about “Afterward” and am wondering if there are particular articles, essays or books about this story — or about Edith Wharton’s supernatural fiction generally — which I should read first. All suggestions gratefully receieved, along with as much bibliographic details as I’ll need to track them down.

Thank you!

Lisa Tuttle Lisa@torinturk.freeserve.co.uk

Edith Wharton QuotationCan someone tell me the source of this Edith Wharton quote?
“I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s centre of life inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity–to decorate one’s inner home so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome any one who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone.”
Helene Stone rmshs@earthlink.net


On the Edith Wharton Society’s “Queries” page (from 2003), Helene Stone asked if anybody knew the source of this quote:I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one’s centre of life
inside of one’s self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of
unassailable serenity–to decorate one’s inner home so richly that one
is content there, glad to welcome any one who wants to come and stay,
but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone.

I have no idea if anybody’s still interested, but for what it’s worth, this quote appears on page 413 of R. W. B. Lewis’ book “Edith Wharton: A Biography” (1975). According to Lewis, the quote is from a letter of Wharton’s to Mary Berenson, when Berenson was ill.

Unfortunately, the letter doesn’t seem to be included in Lewis’ collection of Wharton’s letters (“Letters of Edith Wharton”, 1988, with Nancy Lewis).



Drawing by Meslay

I have a print or drawing, somewhat old, Paris scene. Paris La Madelene- signed in pencil Meslay. Can Anyone help to locate this artist or any other information? Thank you.
Teresa Tripptrippball@yahoo.com


Wharton and Women’s CollegesWomen’s colleges in America–Wellesley, Smith, Vassar, Bryn Mawr–enjoyed a surge of popularity
c. 1900-1920.
There were many articles published about them in
the same magazines Wharton’s work appeared (Scribner’s, Collier’s, Century). Increasingly, daughters of the wealthy began attending. Does anyone know Wharton’s opinion of this?
On the one hand, one imagines she would approve as
she was very well read. On the other hand, the daughters of the wealthy lived with the daughters of the middle and working class, and did shocking things like use slang and go hatless on campus.

Sandra Foster 4/19/03

Wharton Quotation on Dogs

I am writing a book about Papillon dogs. Edith Wharton was one of the first Americans to own this breed; I have a copy of a wonderful photo of her with an old-fashioned Papillon perched on each shoulder.

There is a quote that is widely attributed to Edith Wharton in dog books, but I’ve never seen it anywhere else. The quote is: “My little dog — a
heartbeat at my feet.” I am trying to verify that she did (or didn’t) write
this wonderful little phrase. Can you shed any light on the subject?

I really hope you can help me!

For your information: The book is called “A New Owner’s Guide to Papillons” and will be published by TFH publishing, a major pet publisher. Among my other credentials, I am the pet columnist for The Oregonian newspaper in Portland. You can see my recent columns at http://www.oregonlive.com/pets.

Thank you so much for any help you can give me; I really work hard to make my
writing very accurate.

Deborah Wood



QUESTION: Re: Edith Wharton and dogs. Thank you so much for the information about the quote, “My old dog/A heart-beat/At my feet.” I will be sure that it is used correctly in the text of my book! You were a great help!

Deborah Wood


Deborah Wood didn’t leave an e-mail address, so I’m replying to the list instead. The phrase she quotes is almost all of a little haiku-like poem, one of several Wharton published under the title “In Provence and Lyrical Epigrams” in _Yale Review_ vol. 9 (January, 1920), 346-348. The poem is the first of the “Lyrical Epigrams,” and reads thus:My little old dog:
A heart-beat
At my feet.

“In Provence and Lyrical Epigrams” is available from the Electronic Text
Center at the University of Virginia Library

Jim Wallace


This is a reply to Deborah Wood’s query about the Wharton quote on dogs: that quote can be found as a scrapbook sticker in the collection published by Susan Branch. I have used it myself in a scrapbbook I have made for all my foster dogs – and that particular foster dog actually joined the family. Just FYI

Sharon Kneeland shash56@yahoo.com 6/6/03

Wharton on “Concept”

The saxophonist Wayne Shorter was discussing what the term “concept” means in a recent interview, and he referred to Edith Wharton’s discussion of the term in the introduction to one of the early editions of “The House of Mirth.” Does anyone know which edition and, perhaps, how to obtain a copy of the introduction? Thanx.

K. Leander Williams
Staff Writer, Music Section
Time Out New York
627 Broadway, 7th Flr
New York, NY 10012


Two Versions of “The Other Two”?

QUESTION: Does anyone know the publishing history of the short story “The Other Two”? One version from The Descent of Man and Other Stories (1904) has three main parts, but another version from Roman Fever and Other Stories (Scribners 1964) has five major sections. Did Wharton add to the story at a later time? Or ? Ellen Knodt eak1@psu.edu

The version in the first edition of The Descent of Man and Other Stories (pp. 71-105) has all five numbered sections. The story also appears in Collier’s32 (13 February 1904): 15-20, so perhaps that is the version with only three sections.

D. Campbell, 7/24/08

PBS Version of The House of MirthQUESTION: I hope this will qualify as a scholarly query (I’m a scholar, though not of Wharton!). Not very hopefully, I’m looking for a tape of the 1981 PBS TV production of The House of Mirth. I’ve failed to find it via the usual sources, including PBS, which doesn’t deal with things that far back. Conceivably a Wharton scholar might have made or acquired such an item?
Though I’m no specialist, it seemed to me when I saw it back then to be quite an intelligent, moving film. In retrospect at least, I like it rather better than the recent much longer & more (perhaps too) lavishly produced movie. I’d appreciate any tips.

John Rhodes, jrhodes@wellesley.edu

Scott Marshall discusses this in his article on Wharton and film, but his information comes from a copy taped at the time of broadcast. This may be available in a television archive, but unfortunately I’m not aware of another place where it would be available. Depending on the copyright laws, it might be possible to arrange a tape exchange if a Wharton Society member would contact the EWS with information about a copy, but so far, no one has come forward since a similar request was made in 2000. Sorry.

–D. Campbell

Ethan Frome in French?

QUESTION: I have heard rumors that Edith Wharton actually began writing “Ethan Frome” in French. Is there any validity to this statement, and is there any additional, scholarly information on this idea? Thanks. jamielibby@teacher.com

Yes, it’s true that Edith Wharton began writing Ethan Frome in French, in part as an exercise in writing in a more contemporary form of the language. She began it while living in Paris. Both Shari Benstock and R. W. B. Lewis provide details in their biographies of Wharton, and I seem to recall that Wharton mentions this in A Backward Glance.

–Donna Campbell

Wharton at the 1893 Columbian Exposition

QUESTION: I would like to know if Wharton attended the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Eleanor Dwight mentions the expo in _The Gilded Age_ as a site of intense interest in architecture. My dissertation is concerned with Wharton’s background in architecture. Her compiled letters (Lewis) do not indicate that she attended.

Barbara Kernan, blkernan@students.wisc.edu



I had read somewhere that Wharton had based the character of Rosedale in “House of Mirth” on August Belmont, Sr. Another site claimed that the charcter of Beaufort in Age of Innocence was based on Belmont.

I would like to know if any of your members has any knowledge of the relationship of Wharton to Belmont. I did find information showing her friendship with his son and daughter- in- law in connection with their work for the Metropolitan Opera. I would be interested in people’s comments on anti- semitism in the novels.

Thank you.

Judith Daar, Berkeley

It’s likely that August Belmont served as the model for Julius Beaufort in The Age of Innocence rather than for Rosedale. I discuss the subject of Daar’s inquiry in depth in my essay “The Perfect Jew and The House of Mirth,” which appeared in the Edith Wharton Review Spring 2000 and also, earlier, inModern Language Studies 23:2 Spring 1993, pp. 25-36. The later essay also discusses the work of several critics on the same subject. Belmont’s son married a good friend of Wharton’s and she and her family certainly saw the Belmont family socially.
Irene Goldman-Price icgp@epix.net
Source of Sarah Orne Jewett Quotation

I’m looking for the source of the following literary allusion: “It is the higher nature that yields, because it is the most generous.”  A Google search will yield only the text in which the allusion occurs (Sarah Orne Jewett’s novel A Country Doctor) and a previous posting of mine with the same query.  It’s possible that she’s quoting inexactly, from memory, or that it’s an English translation of a line whose source is in another language.  Any help in tracing this line to a source will be most appreciated.

Frederick Wegener, fwegener at csulb.edu


Age of Innocence Play

I understand that “The Age of Innocence” was produced on Broadway in 1928.I
was wondering how I would get a copy of the script. Anyone know?

John Egan


This is an answer to the student who needed the theatrical adaptation of The Age of Innocence : the documents are at Yale University
Box 1 folder 17-20
V.Hugel, bounespams-anglais at yahoo.fr


Bellomont and Mills Mansion 

QUESTION: Louis Auchincloss mentions in his biography of Wharton that he believes she based Bellomont in “The House of Mirth” on Mills Mansion. Is there any evidence that Wharton actually knew the Mills and that she spent time with them, either at Mills Mansion or in Newport?

Anne Miller 11/13/04

Manon Lescaut and The House of Mirth

Do you know where (if anywhere) Wharton makes a comparison between _The House of Mirth_ and _Manon Lescaut_? I could swear I remember reading this, but I’m not sure if it’s the letters, _A Backward Glance_, or a secondary source.

Meredith Goldsmith 11/2/04




This doesn’t address the question about Wharton’s comparison of the two, but here is some information.

From Lewis’s biography:

“At the request of the English actress Marie Tempest, she set to work on a dramatic version of Prosper Mérimée’s romantic nineteenth-century novel _Manon Lescaut_. It was quite a sizeable task; but Edith completed the highly competent four-act work only to be told over supper in Marie Tempest’s house in London that she had decided not to do any more costume plays” (110).

This took place in 1901-1902, as far as I can tell (Lewis isn’t exact about the dates.)

There’s also the Abbé Prevost’s _Manon Lescaut_, which she mentions in _A Motor-Flight Through France_ (seehttp://www.edithwhartonsociety.org/disc/id19_m.htm ).

D. Campbell

Wharton in 1911

What did EW publish in 1911?

Bill Hobby


Ethan Frome.
“The Descent of Man”

I would like to find the genesis of her reference in the story to “Babism,” a movement of the 19th century now known as the Baha’i Faith.

dlherrmann@yahoo.com 8/24/04

There may be some playfulness in Wharton’s passing reference to Babism in “The Descent of Man” (1904) given that the Professor Linyard’s satirical book is misconstrued as reconciling science and religion, and Babism seems to seek similar sorts of reconciliation between religions.

Pauline Manford in Wharton’s novel Twilight Sleep (1927) strikes me as something of a Babist in her attempts to foster discussion between leaders of various religions. And, to my mind at least, a close reading of Wharton’s 1920 travel book In Morocco , provides some indirect evidence of her awareness of and attitudes toward Bab, Babism, and the Baha’i faith, the last of which was established the year after Edith Wharton was born.

–Dan Hefko, Ball State University 9-7-04

Mrs. Mingott and Mrs. Welland: Mother/daughter or aunt/niece? 

My question is on the relation between Mrs. Manson Mingott and Mrs. Welland, two characters in THE AGE OF INNOCENCE.  In Chapter I we read ….”Directly facing him was the box of old Mrs. Manson Mingott, whose monstrous obesity had long since made it impossible for her to attend the Opera, …. On this occasion, the front of the box was filled by her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Lovell Mingott, and her daughter, Mrs. Welland; ….”
By this passage I take it to mean that Mrs. Welland is Mrs. Manson Mingott’s daughter.  And  in fact, in Chapter II we likewise read that “… Archer … had once more turned his eyes  toward the Mingott box.  He saw that Mrs. Welland and her sister-in-law were facing their semi-circle of critics….”
So if Mrs. Lovell Mingott, who is Mrs. Manson Mingott’s daughter-in-law, is Mrs. Welland’s sister-in-law then Mrs. Welland could only be Mrs. Manson Mingott’s daughter (or other daughter-in-law at the farthest).
My question is: Why is it that in Chapter IV Mrs. Welland addresses Mrs. Manson Mingott as Aunt Catherine — and not Mother?  (“We must give them time to get to know each other a little better, Aunt Catherine,” Mrs. Welland interposed, ….”)

I am eagerly looking forward to an explanation regarding this matter.  Thank you.              Mary Lou


In “To Read These Pages is to Live Again” (in the Norton Critical Edition of The Age of Innocence), Julia Ehrhardt explains the inconsistencies as follows:

“In addition to sending [Rutger] Jewett a list of corrections, Wharton prepared a three-page errata sheet listing additional mistakes that she had detected. Among them were several ‘errors in the family tree’ of ‘the Mingott clan’ that Lillie Lamar would explore in her 1968 study of the first edition of The Age of Innocence [TSLL 8 (1996)]As Lamar points out, tangled genealogical roots among several characters mar the novel; the first snarl concerns the inconsistent relationahship of Mrs. Welland and Mrs. Mingott. Near the beginning of the first edition, Mrs. Mingott is identified as Mrs. Welland’s aunt, but much later (in Chapter 19), when the obese family matriarch proposes that the awning in front of Grace Church be removed so that her wheeled chair may clear the doorway, Mrs. Welland expresses shock at ‘her mother-in-law’s plan.” On the errata sheet, Wharton changed ‘niece’ to ‘daughter’ to rectify the first mistake in the second printing, but did not change the second error, which an ‘energetic’ London reader pointed out on a handwritten errata sheet he sent to Jewett. ‘184. Mrs. Welland’s ‘mother in law’ should read ‘mother’ (see p. 3)'” (410).


Given this explanation, “Aunt Catherine” may be an uncorrected error from the “niece” references, or it may be a kind of courtesy title used in the presence of family.

If anyone has another explanation, please send it to the site. Thanks.

–D. Campbell

Biographical Sources for The Children 

QUESTION: Would anyone know if The Children is loosely based on the Lawrence Grant White family children?

Lydia M. Chapin lydiachapin@yahoo.com 8/23/04

Wharton’s Books?

Where can I locate a list of books Wharton owned?  I am particularly interested in books about architecture and interior design with which she would have been familiar.  She mentions a few which came from her father’s library in _A Backward Glance_,but what titles did she purchase and own?
Barbara Kernan 7/8/04


As far as I know, there is no complete list because her library was divided at her death and many of the books were destroyed during World War II, but a good start is Edith Wharton’s Library, a Catalogue compiled by George Ramsden (Stone Trough Books, 1999). The forthcoming biography by Hermione Lee will doubtless also have a great deal of additional information. See this link for more information about the Ramsden book and other sources.

–D. Campbell, 11/2/04

Jérôme et Jean Tharaud and Wharton

QUESTION: cher collègue,
je suis enseignant en histoire à l’Université de Lille III et à Sciences po Paris. J’ai fait ma thèse sur Jérôme et Jean Tharaud qui se trouvent au Maroc en même temps qu’E. Wharton.
Je travaille actuellement sur Lyautey et l’image du Maroc que donnent les écrivains.
J’aimerais entrer en relation avec Charlotte Rich qui a écrit la page sur In Morocco, ou avec tout collègue qui pourrait m’en dire plus.
Merci de bien vouloir entrer en contact avec moi en anglais ou en français.
Bien coridalement
Michel Leymarie michelleymarie@club-internet.fr 6-7-04

Mrs. Lloyd 

QUESTION: Hi, I am from Mexico and I am doing some work on Sir Joshua Reynolds and I was wondering if any of you know why Edith Wharton chose his painting of “Mrs. Lloyd” for Lily Bart on the tableau vivant?

I would appreciate any information on this.

thank you,

Eduardo Hernandez eduardo@alegora.com 6-7-04

“Why I Write”–Wharton? 

QUESTION: I am looking feverishly for an essay titled, “On Why I Write.” I’m quite sure that this is
Edith Wharton; however, I’m having a heck of a time confirming it. I think I read it in an anthology.
Does anyone have information on this particular piece? Id appreciate it! J Holland jana@aeroballsports.com

Joan Didion’s essay “Why I Write” is frequently anthologized, but I have not seen a comparable essay by Wharton in anthologies. If someone knows of this essay, please e-mail the information so that it can be added to this page. –D. Campbell

The essay is most likely George Orwell’s 1946 essay ‘Why I write’.

Terrie Jones


The Cruise of the Vanadis

QUESTION: Can anyone tell me if the steam yacht “Vanadis” mentioned in Edith Wharton’s 1888 diary (The Cruise of the Vanadis) was later owned by E.K.G.Billings of NYC and if this is the same ship now anchored in Stockholm and used as a floating hotel? Thank you in advance for any information you can furnish.

R.Lewis          lewis100@optonline.net 4-1-04

La Solitude = Saint Claire du Vieux Chateau?

QUESTION: I was wondering if you could confirm if the chateau in Hyeres, France, which is now part of Parc Saint Claire, was ever named by her or a previous owner as the villa: La Solitude.  I saw this name given was given as the name she called this manor house. I understood its only name was Saint Claire du Vieux Chateau.
The accuracy of the name of this Villa, as it was known or called by Edith Wharton is very important to my research.
Thank you.


This is an answer about “La Solitude”

There is a French website about Mrs Wharton’s houses in France:


It says that “Elle s’intéresse aux restes d’un ancien couvent, dont elle va faire sa demeure hivernale : la villa Sainte-Claire-du-Vieux-Château, près du chalet La Solitude occupé par les Stevenson en 1884.” which means that ” La Solitude” was a chalet not far from the villa Sainte-Claire-du-Vieux-Château.


bounespams-anglais at yahoo.fr


French draft of Ethan Frome

QUESTION: Where can I find the early French draft for Ethan Frome? Edith Wharton wrote Ethan Frome in French to practise her French, but the ending in the draft is different from the ending in the final version of Ethan Frome. Can someone tell me what these differences are? Thanks a lot!

LI Jin janelee@bjut.edu.cn 3-30-04

This is an answer to the student who was looking for the Ethan Frome French draft: it is at Yale University, Beinecke Library in the Edith Wharton collection, box 5 folder 114.You can ask them to send you copies (copyflo or microfilms), they are very helpful and efficient.
I am a French student and I ordered some copies last year, I paid with my credit card and the parcel was sent to France a few weeks later.  It helped me a great deal.
Have a look on their website:

V. Hugel, bounespams-anglais@yahoo.fr 11/29/04

Wharton’s addresses in Paris

QUESTION: I am looking for parisian’s adresses where was living Edith Wharton. Please can you help me to find this information ?

Kristof Richer 2-1-04

I’m sure many people have answered this question, but, if not, in Paris she lived at 53, rue de Varennes, in the Faubourg St. Germain (Left Bank).
I don’t believe it is possible to see the interior of the Pavillon Colombe, since it is privately occupied, but it is not difficult to take the bus from Paris to the small town of St.-Brice-sous-Fôret.  You can easily locate the rue Edith Wharton and view the commemorative plaque on the wall by the door.
Hyères is a very large city on the Riviera.  However, Edith Wharton’s home, the Ste. Claire Château is owned by the city.  Although it is not easy to find, you can, perhaps, ask directions at the tourist bureau.  The building (former convent) is not open, but you can walk through the beautiful gardens and take photographs freely.

–Sarah Bird Wright 4-6-04


Wharton’s addresses in Paris and links to some of the places are listed on the Frequently Asked Questions page. If readers have other addresses for her, please contact the EWS site. Thanks. –D. Campbell

Student Queries

Theme in “Roman Fever”

What is the theme in Roman Fever?

Some of the selected critical excerpts on the story can probably help you with this.
Christopher Gair on The House of Mirth
I am writing a paper on The House of Mirth. In one of the articles I read, C. Gair quotes Ralph Marvell of The Custom of the Country re: the only way to remain pure is to perish. This statement is not in quotation marks, so I assume it is a paraphrase. Can someone tell me what the full quote is or where I can find it in the book?
Jennifer Wilson 11/29/03
“Valley of Childish Things”

I’m an Italian student preparing my final essay on Edith Wharton short story “The valley of the childish things”. I have not been able to find references and critics on this novel in Italy. Particulary I’m interested in how the short story can be considered the preparing ground for Wharton’s “The age of Innocence”.
Thank You. Tiziana Tallone, Cederna6@hotmail.com


QUESTION: How can you find out information on her for like a research for School???????? The FAQ page has information on finding resources about Wharton both online and in the library.
Plot Summary for “The Other Two”QUESTION: I am doing an assignment on “The Other Two”,and tryin to discuss the plot summary but am having trouble understanding what it is fully. Could someone please give me some insight.


lisa baker, poohbuddha24@yahoo.com


Epitaph on Wharton’s Grave

Can you please tell me what the epitaph on Edith Wharton’s gravestone is?

The reason why I am asking” I am writting a paper for graduate school on the use of gravestones as symbolism in literature to represent illness.Kathleen Lyons kellyons@yahoo.com


You can find the answer to this on the Queries 1999 page.

Here’s the question and answer from that page: Q. 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?

A. 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).

The site at Find-a-Grave does not have a picture of the gravestone, but it does have information about the cemetery.

If you try the Search feature at the Wharton Society site, you can often find an answer to your questions if they’ve been asked before.

Translations of The Age of Innocence

I am looking for all the existing translations in French from “The Age of Innocence” (le temps de l’innocence) Thanks.


Wharton’s Essay on Flaubert

I would like to know the bibliography of the essay Edith Wharton wrote about Gustave Flaubert. Thank you.


Answers to Questions on Custom of the Country

Hi, I’m studing in Barcelona, Spain. I read this book, the custom of the country by Edith Warton. I have seen very good your questions…Could you send me, the answers, please? I would like to meet your professional answer.

1. Should we, as readers, condemn the behavior of Undine? Or has Wharton created a character with whom, as a product of American society, we must sympathize?

2. The death of Ralph, a character who embraced poetry and aestheticism, symbolizes the death of arts and culture in American society. Is this a valid claim?

3. Examine Ralph and Undine in terms of gender. How has Wharton switched the traditional roles with these two characters? Thanks a lot Adrià Alert Umbert Màrqueting i comunicació aalert@nexe.com 


These sound like discussion questions from your teacher, and there wouldn’t be one single answer for them. They’re designed to get you thinking about the book.
Tension in Ethan Frome?QUESTION: Has anyone done any research on the tension of Ethan Frome?  I am doing my thesis on that, and I have my own theories about it; however, I’m afraid that what I’m saying might have been said before by someone.  I have searched through the MLA index and can’t find anything.  I was just wondering if anyone knew something, some research that I haven’t come across yet. Jeanna Poth–student at University of Houston–Clear Lake, j.poth@antonian.org
Help with paper

QUESTION: i have a summary and analysis paper due on Thursday(Jan 9th,2003)about Edith Wharton and i need help finding critical essays on “Roman Fever” and “The Other Two”. HELP!!!! nicole


If you check the information on the FAQ pageand use the Search feature, you will find bibliographic information on these two stories. As noted in the FAQ, responses are posted by Wharton-l members when they have the time and inclination to do so; we can’t promise you will have a response by a specific date.
Women in Wharton’s Novels

I’m doing a paper on how the role of women in Wharton’s novels mirrors the society she was raised in. Who are some critics you would suggest I look towards to find information regarding women in Wharton’s novels? Also, how would you describe these women? Jessica, curlygurly114@hotmail.com

Edith Wharton’s Society

Why did Edith Wharton desire to satirize the society in which she grew up? How did her society affect her as a person and as a writer? Why did she become a writer?

Brittany Baumann


2004 Student Queries

“Roman Fever”–date of composition? 

QUESTION: When,exactly,was ROMAN FEVER written? Mary Filliol


R. W. B. Lewis has this to say in Edith Wharton: “‘Roman Fever,’ the one happy aftereffect of the sickness that ruined Edith Wharton’s visit to Rome in 1934, is another instance of backward glancing” (523). According to Shari Benstock, “Roman Fever” appeared in Liberty magazine in November 1934. EW received $3,000 for it.

D. Campbell, 6/19/05

What makes Ethan Frome a classic?

QUESTION: I am a ninth grade student and I am writing a paper on Ethan Frome.  I like the book very much, but I need to know what makes this book a classic.  Or some information on where to find this.  Thanks Whitney Kennedy
Ethan Frome and Failure

I am writing a research paper in Ethan Frome and i am discussing failure: Ethan’s failure to marry the right woman, stand up to his wife, etc. I need to have literary criticisms and or articles backing up my ideas. I am have a horrendous time doing so. Any help is overly appreciated. Emily Tolzien sweetcherryet@yahoo.com


Some of the recommended works on Ethan Frome may help you. see these pages:

Student Queries 2002 
Discussion Questions

Help with paper on Edith WhartonMy advanced English class is writing an essay on Edith Wharton and her accomplishments. If anyone has any suggestions or advice, please e-mail me! God bless!Morgan, mrkj_2008@hotmail.com 6/29/04
“The Angel at the Grave” and Mythology
QUESTION: In a class that I am taking we read, “The Angel at the Grave” and we thought that it may have had a link to Greek mythology in a way.  I was wondering if there was a link to this for sure, and if so what it is?  We thought that there could be a link through Orestes, Olympians-Jove, Oracle, Pantheon (Greek & Roman), Antigone, Elecra & Iphagania, Labyrinth, etc. Amber Forsythe 6/26/04
Thesis on Summer
QUESTION: Dear reader,
I’d like to make my thesis on Summer.Would you be so kind to help about it.Thx a lot. Abe_jakal@yahoo.com
Can you be more specific about the kind of help you would like? You are most likely to receive a response if you can show that you’ve already done some research and you have a specific question.
Autobiographical Novel?

QUESTION: Which of Edith Wharton’s novels is considered her most autobiographical?

Rebekah Fowler greyegg@earthlink.net 6-4-04

In “Edith Wharton: A Brief Biography,” included in A Historical Guide to Edith Wharton, ed. Carol J. Singley, Shari Benstock writes, “Her novel The Reef (1912) treats the complexities of family and romantic loyalties. This is her most intellectual novel and one of two works in which she constructs a heroine most like herself (the other is Ellen Olenska in The Age of Innocence)” (37).

D. Campbell, 6/19/05

French Ways and Their Meaning 

QUESTION: I’m writing a paper looking at the autobiographical details revealed in Wharton’s commentary and judgments in “French Ways and their Meaning.”  I’d welcome any comments, insights, and suggestions!

Thank you very much! kramer@fas.harvard.edu 5-15-04

Richardson’s Clarissa

QUESTION: I would like to know whether anyone has written on the possible connections between The House of Mirth and Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa.

It is not just that Richardson quotes Ecclesiastes 7 in his long postscript to the 3rd edition of the novel (1751), but rather that his ideas on tragedy, the lack of culpability of his heroine and his defence of her fate all seem equally appropriate to Lily Bart. I know she uses the name Clarissa in Glimpses of the Moon.
Martin Regal 5-15-04

The Age of Innocence: Good criticism on the novel? 

QUESTION: My name is Kayla Galbraith and I am currently enrolled in my high school’s AP Literature course and for my senior paper, I am required to compile a literary critique on my novel of choice.  I chose The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton.  As a high school student there isn’t a large selection of literary criticisms to choose from in my high school’s library, and frankly I have no idea where to begin to find any of worth.  I plan to start at the local college library, but am wondering if there are any particular authors I should look out for.

Thank you for your time.  5/15/04

A good place to start would be the essays collected with these editions of the novel; they will introduce you to the critics and concepts:

Nowlin, Michael, ed. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Broadview Press, 2002.

Singley, Carol, ed. The Age of Innocence: Complete Text With Introduction Historical Contexts, Critical Essays New York: Riverside, 2000.

Waid, Candace, ed. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 2003.

See also Linda Wagner-Martin’s Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence: A Novel of Ironic Nostalgia (Twayne, 1996).

All of these are available through online booksellers, and some will also be available in general libraries.


“Pomegranate Seed” and “The Muse’s Tragedy” 

QUESTION: I’m doing research on Edtith Wharton for a paper in english class. My thesis is the denial of both men and women when looking at there parnters past realtionships based off two of her short short stories “the Muse’s Tragedgy” and “Promegranate Seed” i’m having trouble on where to look for solid information for my paper. Any sugestions?

Kati BittoKE@aol.com 4-9-04

Smoking in The House of Mirth

QUESTION: Can anyone explain cigarettes and smoking as a symbol in The House of Mirth? Are there any other symbols besides money? Thanks!

Charlene Leverette lukecd_99@yahoo.com 3-30-04

Wharton’s eyes (what color?)

QUESTION: Hello, I am a middle school student working on a project called “Eminent Americans”. For this project I am supposed to “become” Edith Wharton, but first it is required for me to learn as much personal information as possible. I have been able to find most required information, however I have been unable to find, regardless of where I search, for Edith Wharton’s eye color and her favorite color. It would be most appreciated if someone could provide me this information.

Thank You,
Lianne Louie


Edith Wharton had reddish hair and brown or light brown eyes, according to her biographers.

Angelica du Lac

I am an MA student in Tel-Aviv university. My thesis deals with the use of art in “The House of Mirth”, “The Age of Innocence” and the short story “The Daunt Diana”.

Can you recommend on relevant bibliographical items?

Furthermore, I have encountered in “The Age of Innocence” a painting which is called “Angelica du lac” by Gainsborough which I couldn’t find anywhere. I don’t know if this painting even exits.

Thank you for your help.

einat segev
einat-se@yedtik.co.il 2/29/04

There is a general bibliography on The House of Mirth that may be helpful, but if readers of the site would send specific suggestions, they’ll be posted.

About the Gainsborough painting: Update 6/29/04: According to Candace Waid’s edition of the work (see above), this is “a fictitious portrait” (33, n. 1).

Motives for writing Ethan Frome

QUESTION: What, if any, was Edith Wharton’s person motives for writing Ethan Frome? What are the intertwined themes between Frome’s New England farm, and her own life?karen wesala



If you read the preface that Edith Wharton wrote to the 1922 edition of Ethan Frome, you will find Wharton’s explanation for why she wrote the novel. Her biographers (Lewis, Wolff, Benstock, Dwight, etc.) discuss the connections between Ethan’s plight and Wharton’s own unhappy marriage.
General information on Wharton

QUESTION: I am an italian student, my name is Amore Nadia. I am preparing my thesis on Edith Wharton and her novel “The house of mirth” so I need more material about her. Can you give me some indication about any library where I could find more material about her? If you have information please contact me at this address: nadia_amore@yahoo.it
Thank you

Wharton’s Education

Dear Edith Wharton Society homepage,
It has come to my attention that I have not recalled any information about Wharton’s educational life. Was there any education involved? Or did her mother pay for the publications for her books?
Who is theauthor of this page? I need it for research if it is possible.


You can find information about Wharton’s education in her autobiography A Backward Glance and also in these biographies:

Bell, Millicent. Edith Wharton and Henry James: A Story of their Friendship. New York: Peter Olsen, 1965.
Benstock, Shari. No Gifts From Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton. New York: Scribner’s, 1994.
Dwight, Eleanor. Edith Wharton, An Extraordinary Life: An Illustrated Biography.
Lewis, R.W.B., and Nancy Lewis, eds. The Letters of Edith Wharton. New York: Scribners, 1989.
Lewis, R.W.B.Edith Wharton: A Biography. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. Still the basically wonderfully researched and elegantly written life.
Wolff, Cynthia Griffin. A Feast of Words: The Triumph of Edith Wharton. New York: Addison-Wesley, 1977, 1995.
Wright, Sarah Bird.Edith Wharton A to Z: The Essential Guide to the Life and Work. New York: Facts on File, 1998.

Most items at the EWS site are signed; if they are not signed, the work is that of the site author (Donna Campbell).

Life and works

QUESTION: to what extent did Whartons life and background influence her major works.esp, ‘The Age Of Innocence’

jennifer, 97hollanje@ag-sch.org.uk 1/29/04

Summer and place

QUESTION: In my English class we just began out research paper on “Summer,” by Edith Wharton. I have chose the topic of the importance of places (such as the mountain, Lawyer Royall’s house). I would be much obliged if i could be provided with websites presenting information on this topic. Thanks! Alexandra DiGiorgio 2/1/04

1 thought on “2003-2004 Queries

  1. Pingback: B is for Belmont (1813[?]-1890) | Street History DC

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