Saturday, October 15, 2011

New queries at the Edith Wharton Society site

Please send any replies to for posting at the site.
Edith Wharton's dogs

I am conducting research for an article to be published in 2011, commemorating the 125th anniversary of American Kennel Club recognition of the English Toy Spaniel (admitted 1886). I wish to include photographs of noted Americans with this breed in my article.

About 2 to 3 years ago, I saw a photo (possibly a post card or carte de visite) for auction on Ebay claiming to show Edith Wharton with her pet English Toy Spaniel [a.k.a. King Charles Spaniel; not to be confused with the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel]. Unfortunately, I did not win this auction and I cannot find this particular photo in any on-line archives. I have found photos of Edith Wharton with her Chihuahua dogs and a Yorkshire Terrier.

Is there a copy of this photo in the collection of the Edith Wharton Library/Archives? Can anyone confirm that she did indeed at some time own this breed as a pet? The photo on Ebay definitely depicted a lady of the era, certainly resembling Edith Wharton, with an English Toy Spaniel. I believe the dog was seated on her lap. This photo may have been taken after the author relocated to France. The dog is a small, flat-faced spaniel which could be easily mistaken for a Pekingese.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Richard LeBeau
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"The Line of Least Resistance"

My name is quoted below and you can of course quote it, as well as my e-mail address. I am and have been all my life a passionate Whartonian, although I am better know throughout the world (this a true fact not a self-serving fancy!) as a biographer of Gustav Mahler (3 volumes of my biography have been published by Oxford University Press).

My mother was one of the two daughters of the hero (or rather anti-hero as we say in French) of the Wharton story The Line of Least Resistance but the story ended very differently in real life. My mother knew Wharton well and they must have met quite frequently in France, where Wharton spent most of her life, as far as I know. She was the main subject of my last conversation with my mother before my mother was killed in a car-accident in 1983.

I found a letter from James to Wharton which concerns "The Line". If further information concerning this story has survived, I would of course be very interested. I already know much of the truth behind the story, particularly why Wharton never followed James's advice of transforming "The Line..." into a novel, but I suppose all Whartonians know about this!

This is all for today but I would be very obliged to receive answers to this message

Henry-Louis de La Grange

Prof. H.L. de La Grange

Please reply to


Frontispiece for House of Mirth

I would like to know which image was used for the frontispiece for 'The House of Mirth,' the first 1905 edition. There are two major photographs presented as taken during this time (one with Wharton sitting at her desk, the other she is standing with a book).
Thank you


"The Journey" I am leading a Book Club discussion on Edith Wharton's "The Journey". Could you tell me what year this short story was written? I understand it is part of The Greater Inclination, with a publication in 1916????

Thank you for your help - it is fine to publish this information.

Age of Innocence Reviews in British Periodicals

Was Age of Innocence reviewed in Cornhill Magazine, or any other contemporary British literary journal of comparable status?


Bouguereau Venus

I am doing a research on art collectors Wharton knew and drew inspiration from for her characters.

In her autobiography she mentions an episode in which William Astor’s acquisition of a Bouguereau Venus was occasionally commented upon by friends and relatives; I have been looking in several publications and archives, but I have not been able to identify this painting; I’m also not sure if the Astor she might have been referring to was William Backhouse Astor or another member of the family.

I would really appreciate any information on the subject.


Elisabetta Mezzani


Judith Fetterley on Wharton

I am looking for the article "The Temptation to be a Beautiful Object" by Judith Fetterley. I cannot find a book in print that includes this article, and I wondered if you could help. Thank you!

Katie Wickliff

Edith Wharton's Will

What was the content of her will? Did her niece receive her possessions? Did she create the potion of literary executor?
Thank you
M Stalnaker


"My Little Dog"

I am trying to find the poem “my little old dog:/a heartbeat at my feet. I am unable to retrieve it from the electronic text center. I am probably doing something wrong. Could you please help me or forward me a copy?

Thank you.

Susan Cook


"The Pelican"

Most critics believe that the lecture is satirized, but why does Wharton also give an account of the smug narrator who prides on his knowledge and assumes himself to be a savior? The pelican implies self-sacrifice, and is this also meant for satire? Also, how do we think of the lecturer's family traditon of learning? Does she try to find an excuse to maintain her literary identity? (Jane from Capital Normal University, Beijing)


Spohr Symphony in Age of Innocence

In “The Age of Innocence” Book 2, XIX , 4 pages into this section the following passage occurs: “A long time had apparently passed since his heart had stopped beating, for the white and rosy procession was in fact half way up the nave, the Bishop, the Rector and two white-winged assistants were hovering about the flower-banked altar, and the first chords of the Spohr symphony were strewing their flower-like notes before the bride.”

I am a member of the Spohr Society of Great Britain and as such am interested in all references to the composer in literature. My question is, which Spohr symphony is referred to? Spohr’s work is rarely played these days, especially not at weddings, but it must have been sufficiently standard a part of American wedding services at the period the novel was set in for readers to know, without having it specified, which work it was. Can any member throw light on this?

Many thanks

Mike Jarman

mike.jarman@btinternet .com


Edith Wharton Design Award

I am doing research on Edith Wharton and came across a reference to John Loring of Tiffany fame who was given the Design and Art Society's Edith Wharton Award of Excellence in 1988. I would like to know there if there is any specific information about this particular award — how it came to be — and perhaps other recipients.

Thank you for your kind attention —

Miriam Berman
Author, Madison Square — The Park and Its Celebrated Landmarks


Detailed bibliography of publication dates for Wharton's serial novels

For a researcher at our university, we’re seeking a detailed bibliography for Wharton’s serialized novels’ publication schedule. For example, for the “House of Mirth,” it would give each issue (date, page numbers) of Scribner’s Magazine in which that novel was serialized.

We’ve found many more general lists that tell the months and years a novel was serialized, but are hoping that someone might have compiled this more complete and specific data.

Thank you!

Mary Molineux,

Wharton poem on dogs

I am trying to find the poem “my little old dog:/a heartbeat at my feet. I am unable to retrieve it from the electronic text center. I am probably doing something wrong. Could you please help me or forward me a copy?

Thank you.

Susan Cook,