Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #8

Edith Wharton (1862 – 1937)


Born Edith Newbold Jones to a prominent Manhattan family of high society taste-makers and trendsetters (popularly believed to be the origin of the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses”), Edith Wharton was the first woman ever to win the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. Though she traveled extensively through Europe and spent much of her married life at her husband’s Massachusetts estate, her New York roots are so vividly evoked in her novels that she is traditionally considered “the New Yorkiest of all New York authors”. Wharton’s books set in the city include The Touchstone, The House of Mirth, The Fruit of the Tree, The Custom of the Country, The Glimpses of the Moon, Old New York, and her last unfinished work The Buccaneers. In 1921, she won the Pulitzer for what is now her most famous work (also in a New York City setting) The Age of Innocence. She also wrote nonfiction works, including travelogues, design manuals, and poetry collections. After World War I, she lived exclusively in France (where she died at age 75) returning to the U.S. only once, to receive an honorary doctorate degree from Yale.

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