More About Edith Wharton

It’s fascinating to read about the habits of famous writers. The new book, “Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors,” by Sarah Stodola shares information about Edith Wharton, the author of “The Age of Innocence” which won her the Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1921.

Wharton was a wealthy woman who wrote about her contemporaries in New York high society—in other words, the top one percent at the turn of the 20th Century. The nearly two decades of her adult life, when she had yet to write a novel, provided endless material for her writing. She lived the life of leisure in Newport and Europe, and she made the “rounds” of the New York social season. It was during this time that she began to feel and finally exhibit her resistance against her privileged, provincial set that would show up again and again in her characters; however, Wharton denied accusations that any of her characters had come from real life.

While she wrote about the “set” she belonged to, her lifestyle continued to be part of the privileged—when she woke up in the morning, she did not necessarily get up. She would work in her bed, with her little dogs that kept her company. She had a writing board fitted with an inkpot which enabled her to accomplish her writing. According to Stodola, Wharton never emerged from her bed until lunchtime, and from that time on she was done writing for the day.

Nice life, but I’ll take my computer any day over writing in bed.