Skip to Content

Edith Wharton (1862–1937)

Edith Wharton (1862–1937)

Edith Wharton was an American novelist and short story writer living in France. Royall Tyler first met her in February 1913 at the home of Raymond Koechlin. She was soon introduced to Elisina Tyler, and she was acquainted with Mildred Barnes Bliss and Robert Woods Bliss by March 1913, if not before. During the First World War, she organized charities for refugees and the ill and injured; in 1916, she was named a chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government and, in 1918, she was awarded the Médaille de la Reine Elisabeth by the Belgian government in recognition of her work. She established work rooms for unemployed French women, organized concerts for unemployed musicians, opened tuberculosis hospitals, and founded the American Hostels for Belgian Refugees and the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee. She made Elisina Tyler the vice president of the latter two organizations. In 1916, Wharton edited The Book of the Homeless, a fundraising endeavor of writings, art, and musical scores by major contemporary Europeans and Americans. In 1918, she acquired an eighteenth-century property, the Pavillon Colombe, in Saint-Brice-sous-Forêt outside of Paris. In 1927, she purchased a villa, which she named Sainte-Claire du Château, in the hills above the city of Hyères in Provence, where she lived during the winter months. She died on August 11, 1937, at the Pavillon Colombe with Elisina Tyler at her side.

Hermione Lee, Edith Wharton (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007).

Alan Price, The End of the Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton and the First World War (London: Robert Hale, 1996).

Edith Wharton mss., William Royall Tyler files, folder 9, Lilly Library Manuscript Collections, Indiana University, Bloomington.