HAPPY BIRTHDAY – Edith Wharton, born 24 January 1862
“Silence may be as variously shaded as speech.”
When she was a little girl attending birthday parties, Edith Wharton would wander off by herself, find a library and either read stories, or sit and make up stories for herself. It is no wonder she became a novelist! She was a prolific author, and a hugely successful one – she made a large amount of money from her books. Some of that money was spent on creating ‘The Mount’, her fabulous home in the Berkshires, USA, which displayed all her ideas about the decoration of houses and the landscaping of gardens.
Many of her novels are sad – her novella Ethan Frome is a hugely tragic tale, but it brilliantly evokes the sense of claustrophobia of life in a small town in New England when winter snows close it in. It tells of an unhappy marriage, something Edith knew all about herself. I love The Age of Innocence and The House of Mirth, and both those novels have been superbly filmed, but I recently read The Reef and was not nearly so keen on that one.
In her best works she makes her readers feel that they are taking part in the moneyed, artificial world of New York society – she is a powerful writer.
Edith Wharton died on 11 August 1937, aged 75.
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