“It is quite true that Edith Wharton has been a tremendous influence on me…I decided, largely because of her work, that it was time I wrote something.”
-Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey
Why does Edith Wharton continue to seem credible and contemporary 80 years after her death? One reason is the authenticity of her writing; she was a keen observer not just of society but of the human condition. You can find contemporary counterparts of her characters in today’s literature because the qualities she imbued them with are universal.
Her name is now used as shorthand to invoke style, character, place and time. “Wharton” has even become a verb! In a recent New York Magazine article, a socialite was described as spending most of her adult life Edith Wharton-ing her way through Manhattan’s upper crust.
Vogue magazine honoring Edith Wharton on her 150th birthday with an 18-page photo spread shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz.
Smithsonian magazine named Edith Wharton among the most significant Americans of all time.
Marketing firm Y&R’s The Whole Story Project, an app that creates and places statues of famous women in locations where there aren’t any, has placed a virtual Edith Wharton statue in Central Park!
Author Naomi Wolf revealed how Edith Wharton, influenced by authors such as Oscar Wilde, imagined “a way forward even for female sexual liberation in the context of an awakening artistic consciousness.”
In this article, Wharton speaks to her audience intimately as she shares her creative process. It’s a piece that still feels relevant today, even though it was published in The Atlantic over eighty years ago.
Declared Wharton Fans:
Former First Lady Laura Bush
Cecily von Ziegesar
Books inspired by Edith Wharton:
A Wife of Noble Character by Yvonne Puig
Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford
The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus
Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own by Kate Bolick
The Edith Wharton Murders by Lev Raphael
Rosedale in Love by Lev Raphael
The Innocents by Francesca Segal
Gilded Age by Claire McMillan
The Age of Desire by Jennie Fields
Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar
The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nikola Kraus