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"Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones in New York in 1862. A member of a distinguished New York family, she was educated privately in the United States and abroad.
"In 1885 she married Edward Robbins Wharton, who was twelve years her senior and from whom she was divorced in 1913. From 1910 until her death she made her home in France. During the war she ran a workroom for unemployed skilled women workers in her quarter; she fed French and Belgian refugees in her restaurants below cost price; she took entire charge of 600 Belgian children who had to leave their orphanage at the time of the German advance. In 1915 the French government gave her the cross of the Legion of Honour. She died in 1937.
"She started writing in 1897, but it was not until 1905 that she had an outstanding success with The House of Mirth. During her life she published more than forty volumes: novels, stories, verse, essays, travel books and memoirs. While Ethan Frome (1911), the stark New England tragedy, is possibly her best-known work, it is the least typical of her art. This found full expression in her 'society' novels, such as The Custom of the Country and particularly The Age of Innocence (1920), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize and in which she brilliantly analysed the changing scene of fashionable American life, and contrasted the manners of the New World with those of Old Europe. Other works include Summer and The Muse's Tragedy and Other Stories."
Source: Penguin Web Site (http://www.futurenet.co.uk/Penguin/Authors/638.html). Accessed 10 June 1997.
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The author portrait is reproduced from The Sexual Education of Edith Wharton. (By Gloria C. Erlich. Berkeley: U of California P, 1992. Following page 114. PS 3545 H16Z646 1992 ROBA.)
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