This post is written by Rachel Unkovic, an aid worker, artist and oral historian. This is the second post in a serial, you can read the first post here.
Photograph of Edith Wharton, taken by E. F. Cooper, at Newport, Rhode Island. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A Series of Facts about Edith Wharton, for Aid Workers.
16.) Edith published The House of Mirth in 1905. Picture it: 1890s New York City. Lily Bart, 29 years old and beautiful, becomes embroiled in romantic scandal. She spirals into a tailspin, descending from New York City elite to the margins of society, where she dies, impoverished, in a delirium of drugs, suicidal, clutching an imaginary child to her breast—drowned by beauty and cruelty.
17.) The House of Mirth has been called “a vicious indictment of a morally corrupt upper class”. It was the world that Edith had been born into. Her rage flashed and scorched.
18.) The House of Mirth was very successful.
19.) Edith divorced her husband in 1913. She left for Europe to wash him off her skin.
20.) June 1914. World War I erupted. As other Americans fled, Edith stayed in Paris. She joined up, first as a funder, later as an organizer, with a group of aid workers. In August, they opened up a house where war-affected women could access food, work and cash.
21.) Towards Christmas, as refugees poured into the Paris, Edith and her friends Continue reading →