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Weekend Recs: Exploring the Chilling Tales of Edith Wharton

We’ve made it to Halloween weekend! For this week’s weekend recs we’re changing it up and bringing to you all things Edith Wharton. If you’re looking to add some spooky stories into your weekend, consider picking up one of Edith Wharton’s short story collections. Learn more about Wharton, her life, and written works below. 

Edith Wharton Biography 

Wharton was an American novelist, short story writer, and designer. Wharton drew upon her insider’s knowledge of the upper-class New York “aristocracy” to realistically portray the lives and morals of the Gilded Age. In 1921, she became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in Literature, for her novel The Age of Innocence. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1996. 

Horrified by ghost stories as a young girl, Wharton took that fear and channeled it into creating a series of chilling short stories filled with spirits beyond the grave and other supernatural phenomena.  As an adult, Wharton claimed she did not believe in ghosts, while somewhat paradoxically also confessing that she was afraid of them. Whether you believe in ghosts and the supernatural world or not, Wharton’s tales are enough to send a tingle running down your spine. 

Fun Fact: Edith Wharton was honored on a U.S. postage stamp issued on Sept. 5, 1980. 

Re-released Short Story Collection 

In total, Wharton has published upwards of 85 short stories that have been published in many different formats over the years. This October, her collection Ghosts will be revived by NYRB Classics, with the same preface with which it was initially published in 1937, shortly after Wharton’s death. Spanning the length of Wharton’s career—the earliest story, “The Lady’s Maid’s Bell,” is from 1902—the tales appear in their original, somewhat perplexing order. The collection contains 11 short stories in total. 

Kate Moss of The Guardian says of the collection, “A blend of Poe, Hawthorne and Henry James, [Wharton] has a lightness of touch that belies the often very grisly tale.” 

Read more about the collection in this New Yorker article. 

About the Edith Wharton Review 

If you want to learn more about Edith Wharton, consider viewing the Edith Wharton Review. The Edith Wharton Review is a peer-reviewed, MLA-indexed, scholarly journal publishing scholarship on Edith Wharton, Wharton in the context of other authors, and Wharton in relation to other writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The journal is published by the Pennsylvania State University and can be accessed through Falvey’s database. 

AVAILABLE AT FALVEY – Short Stories Collections by Edith Wharton: 


""Jenna Renaud is a graduate student in the Communication Department and graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library.


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Last Modified: October 29, 2021