Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was an American novelist-the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her novel The Age of Innocence in 1921-as well as a short story writer, playwright, designer, reporter, and poet. Born into one of New York's elite families, she drew upon her knowledge of upper class aristocracy to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age. Jennifer Egan is the author of six previous books of fiction: Manhattan Beach, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellend in Fiction; A Visit from the Goon Squad, which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; The Keep; the story collection Emerald City; Look at Me, a National Book Award Finalist; and The Invisible Circus. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Granta, McSweeney's, and The New York Times Magazine.
Edith Wharton is my favorite writer and her incisive indictments of the wealthy class she was a part of, are endlessly interesting to me. I also love her gorgeous descriptions. --Roxane Gay Medium An insider's unsparing portrait of late-19th-century New York high society...follows the declining fortunes of husband-hunting Lily Bart, one of the great characters of American literature. Wharton is an amusingly ruthless observer of the manners and mores of the wealthy. --Jay McInerney The Week Edith Wharton's use of language alone isn't easily paralleled. She takes you into this woman's life and makes you feel for her while showcasing her shallowness, materialism, and lack of honor. It is a timeless story we have seen play out for hundreds of years--yet, it feels like it would apply to modern-day society in the form of a Kardashian. Her turn of phrase and sentence structure are beautiful. --Chelsea Handler Vulture My favorite heroine is Lily Bart...She's a tragic figure: flawed but self aware, living at a time when a woman's surest ticket to wealth and comfort was physical beauty. In her last act, Lily transcends her mistakes, and I've never managed to read it without sobbing. --Jennifer Egan The New York Times Traditionally, Henry James has always been placed slightly higher up the slope of Parnassus than Edith Wharton. But now that the prejudice against the female writer is on the wane, they look to be exactly what they are: giants, equals, the tutelary and benign gods of our American literature. --Gore Vidal Edith Wharton was there before all of us; disdainful, imperious, brilliant foremother. --Francesca Segal The Millions There are only three or four American novelists who can be thought of as 'major, ' and Edith Wharton is one. --Gore Vidal What I love about Wharton--the Wharton who wrote The Age of Innocence--is her empathy and ambivalence. --Ta-Nehisi Coates The Atlantic Only a few works of fiction can reasonably be called 'perfect, ' and [Wharton's Ethan Frome] is one of them. There's a crystalline purity to the prose, and a wintry sadness in the story. It gets deep in your bones. --Tom Perrotta Vulture Praise for Edith Wharton Praise for The House of Mirth