The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Five Things You Might Not Know About Edith Wharton

Washington, DC

Edith Wharton. Photographer and date unknown. From Library of Congress collection

Though in her lifetime, she saw her reputation wax and wane, Edith Wharton's name is very familiar to contemporary readers and---thanks to celluloid versions of The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth---familiar to moviegoers as well. Still, here are a few facts about Wharton (and her admirers) that you may not know.

1. In 1916 Edith Wharton received the French Legion of Honor for her relief efforts in France during World War I.

2. Among Wharton's many correspondents was President Theodore Roosevelt whom she met shortly after her marriage.

3. Throughout her life Wharton kept a "Commonplace Book" in which she recorded quotes and observations, many of which showed up in her novels and stories.

4. The hardcover version of Hermione Lee's 2007 near-encyclopedic biography of Wharton (from which some of these factoids are taken) weighs in at nearly two pounds (with more than 827 pages, including more than 50 pages of notes)!

5. Wharton's book on interior design written with Odgen Codman---The Decoration of Houses---is still considered one of that field's enduring classics.

Now, it's your turn! What's your favorite Wharton trivia or quote?

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