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The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton


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During her lifetime, Edith Wharton was America's most popular and prolific writer. The social chronicler of her age, her international reputation was secured by triumphs such as The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, The Custom of the Country, and The Age of Innocence, a work for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1921. More recently, an explosion of scholarly research and a spate of Hollywood adaptations of her books have assured her place in the American novelistic tradition and the popular imagination.

At her death in 1937, Wharton left behind a fascinating collection of unpublished work written throughout her lifetime. This is the first scholarly edition of this body of work. Largely unfinished, these unknown works include two abandoned novels, five stage-plays, and frank life writings drafted late in her career. Several texts are works-in-progress for later, more renowned writings. The plays in particular open up a hitherto unexplored field of Wharton studies and allow scholars to adjust their assessment of her as a novelist.

Copy texts are carefully chosen. Where more than one draft exists, the most advanced version has been printed and textual variants are recorded in the endnotes. The edition also benefits from a lengthy general introduction, background essays to each genre section, headnotes and endnotes.

The edition is essential for scholars and students of Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Literature, American Literature, Women's Writing and the History of the Novel.


- Presents writings unpublished in Wharton's lifetime

- Five unknown stage-plays open up a hitherto unexplored field of Wharton studies

- Publishes the abandoned novels Disintegration and Literature

- Includes frank life writings which reveal far more than Wharton's official memoir of 1934

- Forms a practical resource beyond the Wharton archive

- New editorial material includes a general introduction, volume introductions, textual variants, headnotes and endnotes

Bibliographical information:

Wharton, Edith. The Unpublished Writings of Edith Wharton. Edited by Laura Rattray. 2 vols. London: Pickering & Chatto, 2009.

- Vol. 1. Plays: Introduction; Editorial Note; Edith Wharton as Playwright; The Man of Genius; Untitled; The Arch; The Necklace; Kate Spain; Plays: Appendix

- Vol. 2. Novels and Life Writing; Introduction; Editorial Note; Fast and Loose; Disintegration; Literature; Life and I; "Quaderno dello Studente"; Bibliography

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