Wharton, photo courtesy of Uneek Doll Designs

Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1921). Her best-known works are Ethan Frome, House of Mirth, and The Age of Innocence (all of which are available for free at gutenberg.org). She also wrote more than 50 books on many subjects. Ethan Frome is one of her fiction books that bookstores and libraries typically display in winter, and can be required reading in high school or college programs.

A New York City aristocrat during the Gilded Age, Wharton grew up in a world of wealth and privilege. Her literary works delve into her times with a critical eye and universal themes.

Notably, during World War I, when living in Paris: “Wharton established workrooms for unemployed seamstresses, convalescent homes for tuberculosis sufferers, hostels for refugees, and schools for children fleeing war-torn Belgium. As a writer, Wharton was intent on witnessing the realities of war and was one of a handful of journalists and writers allowed on the front lines. In 1916, Wharton received the French Legion of Honor for her war work,” according to https://www.edithwharton.org.

The Mount

The Mount is the home of Edith Wharton in Lenox, and it demonstrates her ideas on how to organize architecture and surrounding gardens. It is closed during late fall and winter.

Lenox remains a small town in Berkshire County with deep historical roots. Its population is fewer than 2,000 residents, which is approximately equivalent to the population there in Wharton’s day.

According to https://www.edithwharton.org/discover/edith-wharton: “In 1901, eager to escape Newport, Wharton bought 113-acres in Lenox, then designed and built The Mount, a home that would meet her needs as designer, gardener, hostess, and above all, writer. Every aspect of the estate—including its gardens, architecture, and interior design—evokes the spirit of its creator.”

Additional literary stops in Berkshire County include the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, the Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, and the W.E.B. DuBois Home Site in Great Barrington.

The Mount is the seventh stop on Massachusetts Author Adventures Trail Part 2.

Patricia Smart