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Edith Wharton's New York City: A Backward Glance

March 15-December 31, 2012

curated by Harriet Shapiro

Edith Wharton's New York City celebrated the 150th anniversary of the birth of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton. Born in New York City on January 24, 1862, Wharton lived abroad for much of her adult life, but 19th-century New York City inspired her great novels and short stories, from The House of Mirth to The Age of Innocence. Wharton's writings brilliantly recreated her deep and unbreakable ties to the city and its complex architectural and social heart.

This exhibition revealed for the first time the intimate links between Wharton's world and the Society Library. Edith's father George Frederic Jones was a Library shareholder who often took out books for himself and his family. Many of Wharton's other relatives were also members, including her niece Beatrix Farrand, a well-known landscape architect.

Edith Wharton's New York City showcased family photographs from various collections and books by Wharton, including several from the collection of Martin Hutner. The Mount, Wharton's home in Lenox, Massachusetts generously loaned historic family portraits and books Wharton read as a child.

A catalog with essays by Ms. Shapiro and authors David Garrard Lowe and Roxana Robinson was published in March 2012.

A rare daguerrotype of Edith Wharton's mother Lucretia Jones, from the collection of Jonathan LeRoy King (photo by Karen Smul)

Edith Wharton's cousin Jonathan LeRoy King (second from right) with his family at the exhibition opening (photo by Karen Smul)

Jonathan LeRoy King with Head Librarian Mark Bartlett and Head of Exhibitions Harriet Shapiro (photo by Karen Smul)

Author and catalog contributor Roxana Robinson speaks at the exhibition opening (photo by Karen Smul)

Credit: Photo by Karen Smul

Credit: Photo by Karen Smul