“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.

Additional Testaments:

Anna Kingston’s Why Edith Wharton Still Haunts Us

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:

Tori Amos

Elif Batuman

Kate Bolick

Former First Lady Laura Bush

Candace Bushnell

Tory Burch

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Cindy Crawford

Fiona Davis

Lena Dunham

Jennifer Egan

Nora Ephron

Julian Fellowes

Julia Fierro

Ken Follett

Jonathan Franzen

Art Garfunkel

Roxane Gay

Paul Goldberger

Lauren Groff

Chelsea Handler

Anjelica Huston

D.H. Lawrence

Min Jin Lee

Scarlett Johansson

Ashley Judd

Mindy Kaling

Garrison Keillor

Lydia Kiesling

Christina Baker Kline

Dennis Lehane

Jim Lehrer

Edan Lepucki

David McCullough

Jay McInerney

Leighton Meester

Stephin Merrit

Claire Messud

Charlotte Moss

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Peter O’Brien

Mitchell Owens

Gwyneth Paltrow

Michelle Paver

Tom Perrotta

Richard Price

Anna Quindlen

Roxana Robinson

Isabel Rose

Salman Rushdie

Rakesh Satyal

Martin Scorsese

Brian Selznick

Chloë Sevigny

Lionel Shriver


Emma Thompson

Colm Toibin

Suzanne Vega

Cecily von Ziegesar

Edmund White

Bunny Williams

Meg Wolitzer

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