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Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. Wharton combined her insider's view of America's privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era's other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt.

Despite not publishing her first novel until she was forty, Wharton became an extraordinarily productive writer. In addition to her fifteen novels, seven novellas, and eighty-five short stories, she published poetry, books on design, travel, literary and cultural criticism, and a memoir.

Wharton first began inventing stories when she was six. She would walk around the living room holding a book while reciting her story. In 1873, Wharton wrote a short story and gave it to her mother to read. Her mother criticized the story, so Wharton decided to just write poetry. While she constantly sought her mother's approval and love, it was rare that she received either. From the start, the relationship with her mother was a troubled one. Before she was fifteen, she wrote Fast and Loose (1877). In her youth, she wrote about society. Her central themes came from her experiences with her parents. She was very critical of her own work and would write public reviews criticizing it. She also wrote about her own experiences with life. 

Many of Wharton's novels are characterized by a subtle use of dramatic irony. Having grown up in upper-class, late-nineteenth-century society, Wharton became one of its most astute critics, in such works as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence.