Edith Wharton Scorned

View "The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton"

View “The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton”

The 2002 book Hell Hath No Fury, edited by Anna Holmes, is a collection of letters written by women at that excruciating, pathetic, heartbreaking, spent, disgusted, disillusioned moment when an affair is ending. Included in the contents, under the heading “The Silent Treatment,”is a 1910 letter from Edith Wharton to her lover, Morton Fullerton, who has slowly stopped writing.

Four months before she wrote to Fullerton, Wharton learned from her husband, Teddy, that he was having an affair of his own and had withdrawn the equivalent of a million dollars from Wharton’s trust fund to cover…various expenses. At a time in history when the term “bi-polar”didn’t even exist, Wharton was also enduring Teddy’s frightening mood swings. The “cares & bewilderments” Wharton mentions in her letter to Fullerton are something of an understatement.

Wharton struggles hard, as she writes, to be rational, intelligent, to lay out her case against Fullerton and demand to know if they are lovers or friends. The pleading tone and the fact that she writes at all, given how badly he’s treated her, indicates that she is still under his spell.

Amazingly, it is Edith herself who regains control and answers the “lovers or friends” question.

You can read about this remarkable women in my biography The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton.

About Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

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