Celebrating the Centennial of The Age of Innocence

The Age of Innocence is Edith Wharton’s twelfth novel, initially serialized in four parts in the Pictorial Review magazine in 1920, and later released by D. Appleton and Company as a book in New York and in London. It won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, making Wharton the first woman to win the prize.

2020 marks the centennial of this extraordinary novel.  Its central theme-the pitting of individual aspiration against the silent, crushing authority of the social tribe-is as important and relevant as ever. BBC’s Sounds Arts & Ideas podcast recently aired, The wealth gap, #MeToo and Edith Wharton, which  showcases how relevant Wharton’s novel is today.

Roxanne Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Dennis Lehane have all cited The Age of Innocence as one of their favorite novels and they are not alone. The novel continues to be recognized as one of America’s greatest works of literature.

We hope you join us in celebrating this anniversary. Here are some ways you can be involved:

(Re)Read it or (Re)Watch it!

Pick up copies of new centennial editions of The Age of Innocence. The Scribner edition features an  introduction by Colm Toibin and the Penguin Classics edition features an introduction by Elif Batuman, which was featured in the New York Times Book Review.

Choose The Age of Innocence for your next Book Club pick and have one our interpreters lead a discussion for your Club, here at The Mount. For more information, call 413-551-5100 or email info@edithwharton.org.

Host a screening of Martin Scorsese’s 1993 film adaptation starring Michelle Pfeiffer as Countess Ellen Olenska, Daniel Day-Lewis as Newland Archer, and Winona Ryder as May Welland Archer. Ryder won a Golden Globe Award for her performance, and the film won an Academy Award for costume design.

Centennial Celebrations at The Mount

Crafting a Classic: 100 Years of The Age of Innocence
A new exhibit opening in June

The exhibit will ask, why, well into the 21st century, The Age of Innocence continues to motivate scholars to re-examine its significance, and captivate new generations of writers and readers. Wharton’s own copy of the novel, a rare first edition book jacket, and the copy of the Pictorial Review which first serialized the novel, and over thirty editions in multiple languages, will be included in the exhibit.

Winter Book Club at The Mount Reads The Age of Innocence
February 9 at 4:00 pm

Revisiting The Age of Innocence
June 11 at 11:00 am
Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount, shares her insights and discoveries after revisiting Wharton’s timeless novel in anticipation of the centennial.

100 Years of Innocence: A Conversation with Arielle Zibrak and Sarah Blackwood
June 21 at 4:00 pm
Authors and Wharton scholars Arielle Zibrak and Sarah Blackwood will discuss changing reactions to The Age of Innocence over the last 100 years.

Telling Two Stories with Elif Batuman and Jennifer Haytock
August 4, 4:00 pm
Author Elif Batuman and Wharton scholar Jennifer Haytock will share how their own multiple readings of The Age of Innocence has informed their understanding of social norms, class and privilege, from Wharton’s old New York through today.

Outdoor screening of Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence 
August 28, at dusk

Additional Events

The Age of Innocence, adapted by playwright Karen Zacarías 
January 12 at The Old Globe

The Age of Innocence Turns 100
January 21 at Symphony Space

Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence
March 4 at 7:30 pm at The Tampa Theatre

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence
March 13 at 10:00 am at the NOVA Alvin Sherman Library
Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount, shares her insights and discoveries after revisiting Wharton’s timeless novel in anticipation of the centennial.

Edith Wharton’s New York: The 2020 Edith Wharton Society Conference
June 18-20, 2020; NYC

Recent & Upcoming Publications by Wharton Scholars

Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence: New Centenary Essays

The New Edith Wharton Studies

Women Adapting: Bringing Three Serials of the Roaring Twenties to Stage and Screen

Edith Wharton and the Modern Privileges of Age

Please check back often as we continue to add more centennial news and events.  Media inquires looking for additional information please contact:

Rebecka McDougall, Director of Communications & Community Outreach