Edith Wharton: Traditional or Modern?

A recent Wall Street Journal article takes on a key question raised in Edith Wharton’s 1920 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Age of Innocence. She writes it with one foot planted in the sureties of the Edwardian garden party that preceded World War I and the other perched precariously on the shifting ground of the… [Read More]

The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker Reviewed by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

The Art of Hearing Hearbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker; translated from the German by Kevin Wiliarty; Other Books/Random House, 2006. 325 pages; $15.95 (paperback); reading level: adult. Responding to a just-discovered letter, Julia Win, a hard-nosed young New York City attorney, travels to Kalaw, Burma, her missing father’s birth place, to track him down.  The story… [Read More]

Gilded Age Baby Rattle of Edith Wharton Being Sold for $16,500

An Edith Wharton item has created a huge stir. Unfortunately, it’s not a newly discovered manuscript or a stash of hidden letters that has captured the world’s attention but the sale of Wharton’s very own baby rattle….for $16,500! Before you get too excited, you should know that the rattle, made of coral and sterling silver,… [Read More]

Edith Wharton Safe at Home – The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts is a Place Worth Visiting!

When I visit the home of a historical figure, the thing I’m looking for is sense of that long ago human being. I want to feel the very presence of the person, imagine him moving through the rooms, see her puttering in the garden or taking a book off the shelf to read. Edith Wharton… [Read More]

The Haunting Quality of Edith Wharton

In her insightful article “Why Edith Wharton Haunts Us Still,” Anne Kingston speculates about why so many novelists these days are being compared to Edith Wharton. As Kingston observes, we’ve never stopped being obsessed by the very wealthy or by people trying to claw their way up the social ladder and Wharton is the master… [Read More]

The Writing Mind of Edith Wharton

The Atlantic magazine neatly bookended Edith Wharton’s writing life. It was in the pages of that prestigious journal that, in 1880, her first poems appeared in print. In 1933, four years before her death, that same journal published an article entitled “Confession of a Novelist” in which Wharton looked back over her prolific writing career… [Read More]

Politics and Picture Books: A Proposed Lesson for High School Students

If I told you the U. S. Defense Department’s procurement process would be a great subject for a picture book, you might not take me too seriously. The topic sounds complicated and boring and nonfiction writers tend to look for the exotic, the unheard of, the crazy, the bizarre. A good story idea can also… [Read More]

The Big and the Small of it

Speaking is a part of the writing life. Initially I thought I would speak to larger and larger audiences as I became better and better known.  Two events this past weekend show how wrong I was! On Friday, October 31, I joined forces with illustrator Will Hillenbrand and Richmond Symphony Orchestra flutist Evelien Woolard to… [Read More]

Edith Wharton Teaches English

As I mention in my biography (pp. 66-67), an early short story Edith Wharton wrote called “The Line of Least Resistance” caught the eye of Henry James, a writer she was dying to meet.  It was the beginning of a long friendship between “The Master” (as James was known) and the up-and-coming Edith.  That same… [Read More]

A Thoroughly Dislikable Character

Undine Spragg was one of the most dislikable heroines Edith Wharton ever created. This social “swell,” star of the novel, The Custom of the Country, ruthlessly trampled over family, friends, and enemies alike in her quest to rise as far as possible above her humble Apex, Kansas roots. There was hardly a redeeming word to… [Read More]