My little old dog…

My little old dog

a heart-beat
at my feet

– Edith Wharton

Scan 4

born in New York, New York, The United States January 24, 1862
died: August 11, 1937
gender: female
genre: Literature & Fiction
influences: Henry James, Jane Austen

Edith Newbold Jones was born into such wealth and privilege that her family inspired the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses.” The youngest of three children, Edith spent her early years touring Europe with her parents and, upon the family’s return to the United States, enjoyed a privileged childhood in New York and Newport, Rhode Island. Edith’s creativity and talent soon became obvious: By the age of eighteen she had written a novella, (as well as witty reviews of it) and published poetry in the Atlantic Monthly.

After a failed engagement, Edith married a wealthy sportsman, Edward Wharton. Despite similar backgrounds and a shared taste for travel, the marriage was not a success. Many of Wharton’s novels chronicle unhappy marriages, in which the demands of love and vocation often conflict with the expectations of society. Wharton’s first major novel, The House of Mirth, published in 1905, enjoyed considerable literary success. Ethan Frome appeared six years later, solidifying Wharton’s reputation as an important novelist. Often in the company of her close friend, Henry James, Wharton mingled with some of the most famous writers and artists of the day, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, André Gide, Sinclair Lewis, Jean Cocteau, and Jack London.


In 1913 Edith divorced Edward. She lived mostly in France for the remainder of her life. When World War I broke out, she organized hostels for refugees, worked as a fund-raiser, and wrote for American publications from battlefield frontlines. She was awarded the French Legion of Honor for her courage and distinguished work.

The Age of Innocence, a novel about New York in the 1870s, earned Wharton the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1921 — the first time the award had been bestowed upon a woman. Wharton traveled throughout Europe to encourage young authors. She also continued to write, lying in her bed every morning, as she had always done, dropping each newly penned page on the floor to be collected and arranged when she was finished. Wharton suffered a stroke and died on August 11, 1937. She is buried in the American Cemetery in Versailles, France.


11 thoughts on “My little old dog…

  1. June 29, 1921: The Age of Innocence, won a Pulitzer Prize 92 years ago today. 🙂

  2. It doesn’t pay to be rich.

  3. Fabulous post. I love the little snippet you opened with. I shall never forget “a heartbeat at my feet.” I hope Edith was happy once she moved to France. It would be nice to think she found herself and her true vocation once she had rid herself of that sad marriage.

    • I have often felt that, when they quietly asleep at your feet – all you feel is a heartbeat. I’d like to think so, too, that she was happy post-divorce. She certainly led a very productive life. 🙂

  4. Love the little old dog poem and ‘Age of Innocence’ is one of my favourite books of all time. I can’t read most of the writing on this post, unfortunately, because of the colour of the background – is it just me?

  5. the perfect quote

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