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Edith Wharton

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  264 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
This an American writer."--The New York Times Book Review.
Paperback, 592 pages
Published October 1st 1993 by Fromm Intl (first published 1975)
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Nov 26, 2008 Dale rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
Wharton is a literary hero of mine. In the 21st century I still continue to feel various expectations from family, community, religion and society. I can only imagine the insufferable structure and discipline and conformity she grew up in as a member of one of New York's most prominent families. That, even in that time, thousand times more confirming and constricting than now, she had the temerity to finally stand up and decide to do what her soul, mind and heart drove her to do: write. The fact ...more
Feb 17, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it
Very informative regarding the life of Edith Wharton, but the last two chapters appear rushed and incomplete. At 592 pages it is no wonder - Lewis simply ran out of space. I think Lewis wanted to emphasize the happier, busier times of Edith rather than the lonely end with all of her friends preceding her in death. She was an incredibly prolific author, proficient in many languages, and a member of many elite social circles. And yet Edith seemed to feel alone within a crowd full of people.
This biography of Edith Wharton won the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes when it came out. And I am only on p. 31 at this moment, but I am already finding a lot of thud moments in the writing. His big interpretations seem labored, prosaic, and debatable. I am simultaneously reading Edith Wharton: An Extraordinary Life - an Illustrated Biography, which is only 280 pages with pictures on almost every one, yet it gives more rounding to the person Edith Wharton was than the prize-winning bio does, at le ...more
Terence Clarke
Jul 13, 2016 Terence Clarke rated it it was amazing
For my Huffington Post review of this book, go to
Jul 13, 2011 Aya rated it liked it
My main problem at the moment is the somewhat familiar tone that Lewis seems to be taking. Overall the narrative doesn't seem to impart information very well. On page 209 it's noted that Wharton is about to begin the release of "The Custom of the Country" but a lot more detail is spend discussing trips and meals and friends than books. Lewis is attempting to do justice to a writer he perceives as humorous and warm. While I agree w/his goal at points I am not finding the text to be ideal for my r ...more
Richard Kramer
read this a thousand years ago. lewis was one of my english professors. he changed my life, although i don't remember how, exactly. but he changed it. david milch was his teaching assistant. did i read middlemarch in that class?
i remember the revelation of this was that she had a late blooming but rich erotic awakening. free association ... scorsese age of innocence is awful. terrence davies house of mirth is one of my favorite films ever.
oh yeah, a few years ago i read custom of the country whi
Dec 16, 2011 Lara rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I read this a few years ago as part of my thesis research, and I found the book most useful. Despite the current "hurrah!" attitude toward Hermione Lee's Wharton biography, I prefer this one - Lee has a few errors that piss me off.

This book won the Pulitzer Prize, which is interesting considering Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer. It's an informative biography that is still useful today. And avoid Lee - ugh.
May 15, 2009 Leslie marked it as to-read
To follow up with my new found fascination regarding all things Edith (including her home in the Berkshires which I plan to go and visit now), a recommendation from my sister-in-law that she said is excellent. The library ordred it for me and I cannot wait to dive in .I am lingering over Age of Innocence; just a few more pages to savor.
Jan 07, 2009 Shirl rated it it was amazing
This is not just a biography but history. It took awhile to get through, but it was worth every minute. Edith surrounded herself with various authors and prominent people in whatever country she was either visiting or residing. WWl,Parisian and American politics had her attention and sometimes direct involvement. No wonder this biography was a Pulitzer prize winner.
Sep 26, 2011 Dyer marked it as to-read
Shelves: biography
Bought years ago after listening to two of her books on tape and then watching the movie adaptation of the Age of Innocence by Martin Scorsese. The two books: Ethan Fromme and The House of Mirth. Unforgetable characters in all three. Conflicted flawed and reflections of the mores of the times they lived. I anticipate reading this biography soon during my retirement.
Kay Davis
Jan 14, 2014 Kay Davis rated it liked it
Shelves: edith-wharton
This is the definitive biography of Edith Wharton, first published in hardcover in 1975. It is still the best biography on the market about Edith Wharton. It contains personal details Wharton biographers seldom discuss.
Aug 05, 2015 Peter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
One of the most well written if not the most well written biography I've ever read. Edith Wharton, way ahead of her time, and RWB Lewis, pages upon pages of praise would not do his work justice. What an incredible experience reading this book.
Dec 28, 2009 Alison rated it liked it
Very well-written, though long and not very exciting (although this is not the biographer's fault). An respectful examination of the life of Edith Wharton.
Jul 14, 2012 Pat is currently reading it
Did Edith Wharton and Theodate Pope Riddle ever meet? Just went to Hillsdale Museum and I highly recommend the house tour!
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Richard Warrington Baldwin Lewis was an American literary scholar and critic who won a Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1976.
More about R.W.B. Lewis...

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