Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Voice from Old New York by Louis Auchincloss




Readers lost a thoughtful, wise author when Louis Auchincloss died in January this year at the age of 92.

Auchincloss left a final, posthumous gift, however, a memoir of his youth titled “A Voice From Old New York.”

The novelist and biographer had written an earlier autobiography in 1974, “A Writer's Capital.” He could have written his last book about the decades that followed, but he chose to revisit his childhood.

Auchincloss is known for writing about the manners and society of New York City's wealthy. He took over where Edith Wharton left off. He had a knack for it because he was born into that world.

Growing up in New York City's Upper East Side, he had maids, nurses, additional homes on Long Island and Bar Harbor, Maine, and prestigious private schools, including Groton and Yale University.

In his numerous novels and biographies, he was able to distance himself from that milieu to write critically about the people that surrounded him, their failings as well as their humanities.

In “A Voice,” he focuses on his family, his parents and siblings, and on his friends. He drops quite a few famous names along the way. He was a cousin, for example, to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Obituary of Eleanor Dwight, Wharton scholar and biographer

From the New York Times: DWIGHT--Eleanor Collier, 72, died on November 16. Born September 5, 1938, in Boston, she attended St. Timothy's and Shipley schools and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1960. She earned a master's degree from Columbia University in 1964 and a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University in 1984. She lived all her adult life in New York City. An Edith Wharton scholar, she wrote an illustrated biography of Edith Wharton, published in 1994. Her other books portrayed Diana Vreeland, the Gilded Age in New York City, and tennis innovator James Van Alen. Her articles on gardens, travel, and literature appeared in Harper's Bazaar, House Beautiful, and New York magazines, and the New York Times. She taught and lectured extensively on literature and gardens. She gardened with her husband at their summer home on Mount Desert Island, Maine. A formidable intellect, she served on the boards of Edith Wharton's estate "The Mount," the Colony Club, and the Garden Club of Mount Desert, and was a member of the Century Association. (read the rest at the New York Times site).

A Guestbook for remembrances is available here:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Wharton's poem "Elves' Library" and hauntings at The Mount


The walnut-panelled library contains more than 200 works of original literature, requested by librarian Princess Marie Louise. “To the writers and musicians she sent tiny blank volumes for them to fill,” says Lucinda. In return she received a hand-written, leather-bound story from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, How Watson Learned The Trick, Rudyard Kipling submitted a 4x3cm book of handwritten poems, some unpublished, complete with his own illustrations, MR James wrote The Haunted Dolls’ House, Thomas Hardy sent seven poems and Robert Graves five.

Edith Wharton considered her contribution to be “doggerel… unworthy of so charming a destination”. Amusingly, Lucinda agrees: “She was right. Her poem Elves’ Library is appalling,” says Lucinda.

From Halloween brings haunted tours at Edith Wharton’s The Mount:
Now, in honor of the looming presence of Halloween, The Mount is offering some special spooky programming in addition to the 90-minute Friday Night Fright tours that begin at 6 and 7 p.m. On Saturday, Oct. 30, at 11 p.m. Schuyler and her colleague, librarian Molly McFall, will lead a late-night tour complete with re-enactments and the usual spectral guests. A ghost tour and reading will be held earlier, at 6:30 p.m.

"The people who come here are all over the place," McFall said. "We’ve got young teenagers who want to be scared, professional ghost hunters and women on a girls night out. They’re as old as we allow them, basically from 8 years old to 80."

No matter the age of the visitor, the tour, according to both women, is not for the faint of heart. Many visitors who come in search of a ghostly encounter are not disappointed.

"We go upstairs in the stables, and it’s dark and creepy, and the space is huge," McFall said. "That’s when the kids get scared. There are some possibly true gruesome stories which took place in the stables."

One such story is that of a servant girl who was reported to have hanged herself on the property.

"That story is attached to The Mount from way back," McFall said. "Rumor had it that the girl hanged herself in the attic. We assumed that it was the attic in the main house. But then we had a psychic figure here in 2008 from Ghost Hunters International and he said he saw a figure hanging from a beam in the stable."

In addition to seeing the figure, the young psychic also was able to "read" the emotions of certain rooms in the house, particularly rooms in which the domestic turmoil of Wharton’s life played out for years.

"Once the psychic entered Teddy Wharton’s room, he felt very sorry and depressed," McFall said. "He said he felt something awful, something oppressive."

Schuyler is not quick to blame the odd happenings on the ghosts and bad energy that encompassed the Wharton legacy at The Mount. In fact, she said, of all of the inhabitants of the mansion, the Whartons were there the least amount of time.

"The Shattucks (who purchased the property in 1911) both died in the house. Mr. Shattuck had a heart attack and died peacefully," she said. "This is not something you talk about normally on a standard tour. In the room where he died, certain people have had experiences where they can’t breathe."

While she hasn’t had this experience, Pixley said there have been many incidents at the estate that make her catch her breath at the creepiness of it all.

"I’ve heard someone call my name when I was the only one in the house. I’ve heard a man sneeze," she said. "I was on the second floor in the dining room when I heard an angry man’s voice tell me to get out. It put my heart in my throat and sent chills down my spine."

Even Pixley’s co-worker Sherry has been harassed by unseen beings.

"The other night we were on the third floor and I was walking down the main stairs when I heard Sherry scream," she said. "She said that someone had flicked her really hard on the head, so hard that her barrette had been knocked out of her hair."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Digested Classics: The Age of Innocence

Humor from John Crace in The Guardian:

The Age of Innocence
Edith Wharton (1920)

When Newland Archer arrived, the curtain had just gone up. "Darn it," he thought. "I am 10 seconds early." At least New York society had not witnessed his faux-pas.

He gazed towards the divine May Welland, seated in the Mingott box, and frowned when he saw her cousin, the Countess Ellen Olenska, sitting next to her. What would New York think of the reintroduction of the scarlet woman into society? He and May looked into one another's eyes and Newland knew she had understood he wished their betrothal to be announced that very night.

The engagement would normally have been the talk of New York, yet it was the return of Mrs Mingott's other granddaughter, the Countess Ellen, that dominated salon conversation.

"I hear she left her husband," said Mr Sillerton Jackson. "How scandalous these Europeans are!"

"How dare you, sir!" Newland exclaimed. "She left her husband to escape his beatings."

"A New York wife would take a beating in private," replied Mr Sillerton Jackson. "I find myself compromised by our acquaintance as you are to be married to a Mingott."

These sentiments echoed throughout New York until Mrs Archer persuaded her cousins, the Van der Luydens, New York's most powerful family, to invite the Countess to tea.

"Thank goodness for that," New York society sighed.

Newland was irritated to be summoned to see his employer, Mr Letterblair. Newland had more pressing things to occupy his mind than work; how was New York wearing its waistcoats this season? "Mrs Mingott has requested your assistance," said Mr Letterblair. "The Countess Olenska is seeking a divorce."

Archer understood the delicacy of the situation. "New York will expel the Mingotts from society if you pursue this" he said, "and my engagement to May will also make me an outcast."

A maelstrom of emotion coursed through the Countess's bosom. "Very well," she said. "Come and see me for 10 minutes in a few months' time when I am staying in Skuytercliff," she whispered, overwhelmed by feelings that could not be expressed in New York society.

Newland urged his horses on. "Sorry I'm a bit late," he said, though both he and Ellen knew that what he was really saying was he loved her deeply, yet did not want to compromise her by making her his mistress.

"I've got to go," Ellen replied, though both she and Newland knew what she was really saying was that she loved him deeply, yet did not want to compromise him by becoming his mistress.

Newland went to visit May. "We must get married this year," he begged. "I am aware you once had feelings for a Mrs Rushworth," May replied. "If you have any outstanding obligations to her, then I release you." Newland felt a surge of love for May. Particularly as she didn't seem to have guessed his feelings for the Countess.

"Why do we have to honeymoon in Europe?" May inquired. "Because it is our Henry James moment," Newland replied.

Locked in the loveless marriage decreed by New York, Newland was tormented by his passion for Ellen. He hurried to Boston. "It's been two years and I wanted us to spend another five minutes together," he cried. They kissed, a kiss that signalled they might have intercourse some time in the next few years.

"I'm pregnant," said May, having secretly been aware of her husband's feelings for Ellen all along.

"I am returning to Europe," Ellen announced, and all New York breathed a sigh of relief at such a satisfactory conclusion.

Twenty-six years later, Newland stood outside Ellen's Paris apartment with his son, Dallas. May had died some years earlier and Dallas had suggested they visited.

"Come on up," said Dallas.

"No," said Newland.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Beatrice Palmato

From The Atlantic:
There's no sex in Edith Wharton's best known work. Her Pulitzer prize-winning novel The Age of Innocence chronicles a decades-long affair between a man and his wife's cousin—where the two lovers don't so much as kiss. In Ethan Frome, a married man and his would-be mistress decide to kill themselves rather than succumb to the temptation to sleep with each other. Her short story "Roman Fever" uses an illegitimate child as a plot device—but does not describe any of the out-of-wedlock sexual activity that went into producing it.

Literary types get excited, then, when they discover Wharton's more explicitly erotic work. Jezebel's Anna North has unearthed a "prose fragment" from a story called "Beatrice Palmato" that Lapham's Quarterly published last winter. North introduces the two-page story with the promise, "Check out the Wharton you didn't read in English class."

[Note: The article doesn't mention it, but this discovery was first published in R. W. B. Lewis's Edith Wharton: A Biography in 1975.]

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Glimpses of the Moon musical

Glimpses of the Moon Based on the Edith Wharton novel Book and lyrics by Tajlei Levis; Music by John Mercurio; Directed by David Marqez; Music directed by Darius Smith; at MetroStage through Oct. 17 There's considerable fizz in this Wharton-meets-Astaire/Rogers musical.
By Bob Mondello on September 17, 2010
No Champagne, No Gain: For the most part, this Jazz Age musical has great fizz.

Glimpses of the Moon, a new Jazz Age musical based on the novel penned by Edith Wharton right after she won a Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence, may be less than the sum of its parts at MetroStage in Alexandria. But oh, those shimmering parts: sparkling rhinestone-in-the-rough Natascia Diaz as a penniless, sweetly amoral flapper who can kick up her heels at anatomically unlikely angles but has never learned to waltz; Sam Ludwig as the equally penniless, slightly-less-amoral anthropologist who teams up with her in a pawn-the-wedding-presents scam that can only go awry should they inadvertently fall in love; Lauren “Coco” Cohn, who giddily channels Ruth Buzzi (ask your parents) as a pop-eyed, anthropologist-smitten (“speak to me, in Greek to me”) heiress in desperate need of a makeover; Gia Mora as a slinky, silk-swathed slattern who’s just the gal to give her that makeover; Matthew A. Anderson tapping up a storm as an impoverished earl-in-waiting who is three cousins removed from his title; and Stephen F. Schmidt as a clueless rich guy who’s never more appealing than when he’s hiding his anguish from an ex-wife who doesn’t give a damn.

Edith Wharton and War

From the New Republic:
Books and Arts
Edith Wharton’s War
Was the novelist hopelessly enamored with battle?

Elizabeth D. Samet

Edith Wharton’s War
What Are Soldiers Looking for When They Return Home? Three Men’s Journeys.
For Memorial Day: Captain Whitten Was My Student

Edith Wharton is not a writer most of us probably associate with war. With the frosty, treacherous, yet bloodless drawing-room battles of Gilded Age New York, yes. With the stink and smoking gore of a trench on the Western Front, no.

And yet there Wharton was in France, for the duration of World War I: working vigorously on behalf of numerous charities and relief organizations, sending dispatches from the front back to American readers, publicly and privately making the case for the United States to join the fight. In 1917, she was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her efforts.

Having lived in Paris for long stretches since 1907, Wharton had made France her home by the time war broke out in 1914. In addition to divesting herself of her increasingly bizarre husband Teddy, Wharton left behind The Mount, their Palladian-style country house in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts. Recently I participated in a literary festival there as a member of the panel “Channeling Edith Wharton: Writers in Wartime.” Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I had never before visited The Mount, much less channeled its original owner, who several times toured the Western Front in her Mercedes. She described her second excursion there to her friend Henry James with a jauntiness I mistrusted: “It was less high in colour than the first adventure, & resulted in several disappointments, as well as in some interesting moments—indeed, once within the military zone every moment is interesting.”

War—as both a general idea and also a feature of our own historical moment—seemed very far from this secluded estate in Lenox, with its elegant house and meticulous garden, its annual “coaching weekend” of horse-drawn carriages. The property’s airy beauty had the effect of intensifying a disjunction to which I cannot grow accustomed: the one between the physical settings of my own life—Central Park, the New York Public Library, the Hudson River, even West Point (martial in tone yet, as a place of learning, somehow rather peaceful)—and the imagined landscapes I carry within, volatile landscapes of a geographically distant war described to me by people fighting it.

One day my mind’s eye might be imprinted with the inhospitable “surface of some alien planet” conjured by a pilot looking for a good place to land his helicopter in the mountains of Afghanistan. The next it might be the “mud cave” depicted by a captain who lives in it with a small group of soldiers surrounded by the stench of the fires in which they must burn their own waste. During my visit to The Mount, the scene I was trying—am still trying—to piece together had only just taken place in Kandahar City, where Chris Goeke, a lieutenant I knew well, was killed when his unit was hit with small-arms, rifle, and rocket-propelled-grenade fire.

The disconnection between my external and internal worlds can occasionally prove dizzying. I wouldn’t call what I feel at such moments guilt exactly, or regret, for it isn’t that I think I should be doing something else or that I wish myself (to paraphrase Shakespeare’s Henry V) anywhere but where I am. Nor is it the case that I feel unsuited to the particular role I inhabit, as I surely would were I to find myself on a battlefield rather than in a classroom. Nevertheless, living so far behind the lines presented to my imagination requires a psychological adjustment. And I haven’t adjusted yet.

Meandering through Wharton’s house into Teddy’s sun-splashed den, across the terrace, and upstairs to the “Henry James suite,” I eventually found, as if in response to my discomfort, an exhibit on “Edith Wharton and the First World War,” which begins unprepossessingly in what was the guest bathroom. There I studied a series of placards and photos telling the story of Edith Wharton’s war.

Wharton was disgusted by American neutrality, contemptuous of Woodrow Wilson and his pacifist “apologists,” persuaded that the war was, in the words of her recent biographer, Hermione Lee, “somehow an inevitability, a product of a decaying civilization.” Wharton evidently shared a disturbing faith in war as a kind of purgative with her friend and contemporary Theodore Roosevelt even if her propagandizing zeal never reaches quite the fever pitch of Roosevelt’s own writing on the subject. Her French poilu is an uncomplicated patriot: “Wherever I go among these men of the front,” she wrote in 1915, “I have the same impression … that the absorbing undivided thought of the Defense of France lives in the heart and brain of each soldier as intensely as in the heart and brain of their chief.”

Monday, August 16, 2010

Edith Wharton bio for young adults

Children’s Books
Age of Innocence
Published: August 13, 2010

Any dreamy or bookish girl who once loved “Harriet the Spy” should immediately take up this lively new biography of Edith Wharton by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge. “The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton” tells the story of a strong-willed, unconventional and smart girl who escaped the stifling life of upper­-crust New York around 1880. It includes lush photographs of that faraway time and a pencil drawing Wharton did of herself at 14 reading a book.

Edith Wharton, circa 1905.


A Biography

By Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Illustrated. 184 pp. Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $20. (Ages 12 and up)

Times Topics: Edith Wharton | Children's Books

When she was 6 her parents set up house in Paris, on the right bank of the Seine. One day they found her sitting under a table in the drawing room with a book. She said she was reading, and when, disbelieving (no one had taught her) they asked her to read aloud, they were shocked to see that she could do so perfectly. The book she had selected from the shelves of the drawing room was a play about a prostitute.

Wharton was given to making up stories from the beginning. She clearly wasn’t a normal girl, and her mother, Lucretia, was alarmed by her odd, unfeminine preoccupations. Lucretia didn’t want to encourage her precocious daughter by giving her paper to write on, so Wharton would take the plain brown paper off parcels that came to the house, spread the giant sheets out on the floor and write on them in long columns. She wrote her first novel this way, at 11. It began: “ ‘Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Brown?’ said Mrs. Tompkins. ‘If only I had known you were going to call I should have tidied up the drawing room.’ ”

Wharton embarked on her second novel at 14, in secret, and called it “Fast and Loose.” As soon as she completed it she fired off several reviews by fictional critics: “A twaddling romance”; “Every character is a failure, the plot a vacuum, the style spiritless, the dialogue vague, the sentiments weak and the whole thing a fiasco.” This fierce playfulness, the spirited taking on of the universe, infuses both Edith Wharton’s fiction and her life.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Frances McDormand reading Edith Wharton


I'm writing from a New York theater company called Elevator Repair Service. We're having a reading/benefit on Monday May 3rd that we think would appeal to members of The Edith Wharton Society.

The benefit features readings of "loved, banned, and mythologized" American fiction curated by Paul Muldoon (Pulitzer Prize winning poet) and read by Frances McDormand, Lili Taylor, Frankie Faison, Fred Armisen, and ERS company members. The readings include extracts from The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, read by Frances McDormand.

We will offer a discount code to your members on ovationtix, which is “LIT” getting them $30 balcony seats to the show (normally $50). I pasted a blurb below about the event. Let me know if you are interested.


Lindsay Hockaday
Benefit Coordinator
Elevator Repair Service


American Fiction: Loved, Banned, and Mythologized
A performance to benefit Elevator Repair Service theater company - May 3rd

Elevator Repair Service invites you to an evening of loved, banned, and mythologized American fiction, curated by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon. Hosted by Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of The Public Theater).

Frances McDormand (Burn after Reading, Fargo), Lili Taylor ("Six Feet Under"), Fred Armisen ("Saturday Night Live"), Frankie Faison ("The Wire"), and ERS company members Vin Knight and Susie Sokol will perform passages from great American literature, accompanied by a live comic and ambient sound score.

ERS is currently finishing the third play in a trilogy of critically acclaimed plays based on great American novels by William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway.

Benefit Readings likely to be:

Lili Taylor - O Pioneers! by Willa Cather

Fred Armisen - Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Frances McDormand - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

Frankie Faison - Moby-Dick; or, The Whale by Herman Melville

ERS' Vin Knight & Susie Sokol - The Angel of the Odd by Edgar Allan Poe


Monday, May 3
Cocktail reception (limited admission) 6:30 PM
Performance 8:00 PM


$30 for performance (balcony seating) (chose $50 seats and use code "LIT" to get $20 off)
$50 for performance (right and left orchestra and mezzanine seating)

$125 for reception and performance (orchestra seating)

New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th St at Central Park West

To buy tickets, or for more information, visit, call 718-783-1905, or email

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Edith Wharton to be inducted into the New York State Writers Hall of Fame

New York State Writers Hall of Fame Established

On Friday, April 9th, 2010 the New York Library Association will induct twelve authors into the newly created New York State Writers Hall of Fame. The inaugural group will include ten writers who are deceased and two living whose writings have made a lasting contribution to literature. The list includes the following

James Baldwin
Elizabeth Bishop
Robert Caro
Frederick Douglass
Mary Gordon
Langston Hughes
Zora Neale Hurston
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Isaac B. Singer
Edith Wharton
E.B White
Walt Whitman

Robert Caro & Mary Gordon are scheduled to attend the event to receive the honor in person. Robert Caro is the noted biographer of Robert Moses & Lyndon Johnson. He is the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes in Biography and the National Book Award. Novelist & memoirist Mary Gordon is currently the New York State Author. Her work includes four bestselling novels: Final Payments, The Company of Women, Men and Angels, and The Other Side. She has also published a book of novellas, The Rest of Life; a collection of stories, Temporary Shelter; and a book of essays, Good Boys and Dead Girls. She is the recipient of a Lila Acheson Wallace Reader's Digest Writer's Award and a Guggenheim fellowship. Her most recent book is Reading Jesus (Random House, 2009).

The induction ceremony into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame will be the focus of the Empire State Book Festival Gala scheduled from 6-10 p.m. on Friday, April 9, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Albany, New York. The gala will kickoff the state’s first Empire State Book Festival. The Festival will bring together authors, illustrators, librarians, storytellers, publishers and booklovers to celebrate the literary heritage of New York State. It is free and open to the public. It will be held on Saturday, April 10th from 10 am to 5:30 p.m. in Meeting Rooms 1-7 at the Empire State Plaza, where readings, author signings and special presentations will take place.

The nominees into the NYS Writers Hall of Fame were chosen by a selection committee composed of Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation; Barbara Genco, retired librarian from Brooklyn Public Library and Editor of Collection Management at Reed Business, Brian Kenney, Editorial Director for Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and School Library Journal; Kathleen Masterson director of the New York State Council on the Arts Literary Program, Bertha Rogers, executive director of Bright Hill Press & creator of the New York State Literary website & map; Rocco Staino, chairman of the Empire State Book Festival and Hong Yao Associate Coordinator Collection Development Queens Library.

The NYS Writers Hall of Fame will be physically located on a temporary basis at the Albany Public Library until a more permanent location can be arranged.

The New York Library Association (NYLA) was founded in 1890 to lead in the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning, quality of life, and equal opportunity for all New Yorkers.

For additional information on the Empire State Book Festival and Writers Hall of Fame visit or contact Michael J. Borges at the New York Library Association 1-800-252-NYLA.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

NY Times Obituary: Louis Auchincloss

Louis Auchincloss, Chronicler of New York’s Upper Crust, Dies at 92

Published: January 27, 2010

Louis Auchincloss, a Wall Street lawyer from a prominent old New York family who became a durable and prolific chronicler of Manhattan’s old-money elite, died on Tuesday night in Manhattan. He was 92.

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Louis Auchincloss in 1985.

His death, at Lenox Hill Hospital, was caused by complications of a stroke, his son Andrew said. Mr. Auchincloss lived on the Upper East Side.

Although he practiced law full time until 1987, Mr. Auchincloss published more than 60 books of fiction, biography and literary criticism in a writing career of more than a half-century. . . .

Admirers compared him to other novelists of society and manners like William Dean Howells, but Mr. Auchincloss’s greatest influence was probably Edith Wharton, whose biography he wrote and with whom he felt a direct connection. His grandmother had summered with Wharton in Newport, R.I.; his parents were friends of Wharton’s lawyers. He almost felt he knew Wharton personally, Mr. Auchincloss once said.

Like Wharton, Mr. Auchincloss was interested in class and morality and in the corrosive effects of money on both. “Of all our novelists, Auchincloss is the only one who tells us how our rulers behave in their banks and their boardrooms, their law offices and their clubs,” Gore Vidal once wrote. “Not since Dreiser has an American writer had so much to tell us about the role of money in our lives.”

His detractors complained that Mr. Auchincloss’s writing was glib and superficial, or else that his subject matter was too dated to be of much interest. Writing in The New York Times in 1984, Michiko Kakutani said that while Mr. Auchincloss “is adept enough at portraying the effects of a rarefied milieu on character, his narrative lacks a necessary density and texture.”

“Like the shiny parquet floors of their apartment houses,” she added, “Mr. Auchincloss’s people are just a little too finely polished, a little too tidily assembled.”

The author Bruce Bawer, writing in The New York Times Book Review, said that Mr. Auchincloss had the bad luck to live “in a time when the protagonists of literary fiction tend to be middle- or lower-class.”

. . . .

“Class prejudice” was Mr. Auchincloss’s response to his critics. “That business of objecting to the subject material or the people that an author writes about is purely class prejudice,” he said in an interview in 1997, “and you will note that it always disappears with an author’s death. Nobody holds it against Henry James or Edith Wharton or Thackeray or Marcel Proust.”

. . . .

Even near the end of his life, Mr. Auchincloss said the influence of his class had not waned. “I grew up in the 1920s and 1930s in a nouveau riche world, where money was spent wildly, and I’m still living in one!,” he told The Financial Times in 2007. “The private schools are all jammed with long waiting lists; the clubs — all the old clubs — are jammed with long waiting lists today; the harbors are clogged with yachts; there has never been a more material society than the one we live in today.”

Obituary: Louis Auchincloss

Lawyer and prolific author Louis Auchincloss, 92, dies

By Dennis Drabelle
Thursday, January 28, 2010

Louis Auchincloss, 92, a novelist, essayist, biographer, editor and lawyer whose literary beat was the decline of the old WASP world of power and privilege to which he belonged, died Jan. 26 at Lenox Hill Hospital, near his home in Manhattan. He had complications from a stroke.

The author of more than 60 books in a career stretching over seven decades, Mr. Auchincloss was best known for such novels as "The Rector of Justin" (1964), about the founding headmaster of an elite prep school, and "The Embezzler" (1966), about an upper-class Wall Street stockbroker who succumbs to temptation during the Great Depression.

Louis Stanton Auchincloss (pronounced AWK-in-closs) was born in the Long Island, N.Y., community of Lawrence on Sept. 27, 1917, and grew up on Manhattan's Upper East Side. As a youth, he was put off by his father's arid practice as a corporate lawyer and drawn to his mother's artistic pursuits.

. . . . . . . . .

In 1965, Mr. Auchincloss got the jump on a literary movement by publishing "Pioneers & Caretakers: A Study of 9 American Women Novelists," including Ellen Glasgow, Willa Cather and a writer with whom Mr. Auchincloss himself was often compared: Edith Wharton. Not only did he acknowledge the similarities; he wrote and edited several books about Wharton, one of them a brief biography. He also wrote biographies of Cardinal Richelieu, Queen Victoria, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and edited the diaries of two 19th-century Manhattan grandees, Philip Hone and George Templeton Strong.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New issues of the Edith Wharton Review

The Fall and Spring 2009 issues of The Edith Wharton Review have been mailed to members. The EWR is a peer-reviewed journal indexed by the MLA, and it will soon be available through EBSCOhost.

To submit an essay to the EWR or for the Edith Wharton Essay Prize, go to

Recent Tables of Contents

Fall 2009

Asya, Ferda. "Report on the 2008-2009 Edith Wharton Collection Award of the Edith Wharton Society." Edith Wharton Review 25.2 (Fall 2009): 10.

Hoeller, Hildegard. Rev. of Edith Wharton and the Conversations of Literary Modernism by Jennifer Haytock . Edith Wharton Review 25.2 (Fall 2009): 11-12.

Nettels, Elsa. Rev. of Edith Wharton Through a Darwinian Lens: Evolutionary Biological Issues in Her Fiction by Judith P. Saunders. Edith Wharton Review 25.2 (Fall 2009): 12-13.

Scott, Jacquelyn. "The 'lift of a broken wing': Darwinian Descent and Selection in Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth and Summer." Edith Wharton Review 25.2 (Fall 2009): 1-9

Singley, Carol. Rev. of The Correspondence of Edith Wharton and Macmillan, 1901-1930, ed. Shafquat Towheed. Edith Wharton Review 25.2 (Fall 2009): 14-15.

Spring 2009

Patten, Ann L. "The Spectres of Capitalism and Democracy in Edith Wharton's Early Ghost Stories." Edith Wharton Review 25.1 (Spring 2009): 1-8.

Totten, Gary. Rev. of Edith Wharton and the Visual Arts by Emily Orlando. Edith Wharton Review 25.1 (Spring 2009): 9-14.

Wahl, Jenny. "Edith Wharton as Economist: An Economic Interpretation of The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence." Edith Wharton Review 25.1 (Spring 2009): 15.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Big Read: The Age of Innocence

I am organizing, together with Bloomsburg Public Library, The Big Read, with funds from the NEA, on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence for the Columbia-Montour counties in April 2010. The Big Read is an initiative to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment, specifically young reluctant literary readers. For this project, we have brought together participants from Columbia-Montour counties, including school districts, schools, school libraries, public libraries, museums, theaters, bookstores, coffee houses, literary and historical societies, boutiques, stores and several organizations, to conduct reading and discussion series, exhibitions, film screenings, stage productions and activities on Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence throughout April 2010.

On April 5th, at our opening event, Carol Singley will give the keynote speech, and at the closing event, on April 30th, Abby Werlock will give a speech. I appreciate if our Big Read event can be posted on the Edith Wharton Society's Website.

Ferda Asya, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of English
Director of International Studies LLC
Department of English
111A Bakeless Center for the Humanities
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
400 East Second Street
Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301