Recently in Edith Wharton Category

Come to Zablocki Library's Book Club March 7th

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Ethan Frome book jacket.jpgZablocki Library will be hosting another book club discussion on Friday, March 7th. This time the group will discuss the Edith Wharton classic Ethan Frome.
In this classic novel, a New England farmer must choose between his duty to care for his invalid wife and his love for her cousin. If this inspires you to explore Edith Wharton's New York with the Friends of the Library, please read the information about this opportunity to do just that. The deadline for registering for this tour of New York is March 1st, so don't delay! We hope to see you at Zablocki's March book discussion no matter what. Zablocki Library's book club will continue to meet the first Friday of each month from 10:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. No registration is required.

Library: Zablocki
Date: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time: 10:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M.

Edith Wharton : Town and Country

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A Visit to Edith Wharton's Estate, The Mount


Photograph by David Dashiell

In 1902 Edith Wharton, who loved the climate and scenery of the Berkshire mountains in western Massachusetts, built a home in Lenox which she called The Mount. Ogden Codman, a young architect with whom Wharton had written The Decoration of Houses (1897), designed the principal rooms of The Mount. In The Decoration of Houses, Wharton and Codman rejected the cluttered and over-upholstered look of Victorian rooms and advocated classical principles of restraint and proportion inspired by European villas.

A visit to The Mount is offered as an extension of the tour organized by Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library to "Edith Wharton's New York City" in May. The author Henry James, a close friend of Wharton's, described The Mount as "an exquisite and marvelous place, a delicate French chateau." The estate has been restored to its original splendor. Particular care was taken in the recreation of Wharton's bedroom suite, down to the smallest details of fabric and paint chosen by her for the room in which she did most of her writing. The library at The Mount displays Wharton's personal collection of books.

Wharton, who was an authority on European landscape design and a passionate gardener, envisioned her gardens at The Mount as a series of elegant outdoor rooms complementing the house. On our visit we will see the restored grounds, including the beautiful Italianate walled garden, and have lunch on the sweeping terrace where Wharton entertained friends.

Last year photographer Annie Leibovitz created eight stunning scenes at The Mount for Vogue Magazine, with contemporary writers and actors cast as Edith Wharton and her friends.

Edith Wharton: Town and Country

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East Side/West Side in The Custom of the Country


Edith Wharton's novel The Custom of the Country is set in New York City at the end of the Gilded Age. It was a time when the established families who had ruled society for generations were being overtaken by a new social class whose prestige was based on money rather than tradition. The novel centers on Wharton's most unusual heroine, Undine Spragg, as she navigates the marriage customs of the day. Her upward mobility can be traced in the geography of Manhattan. As the novel opens, Undine and her parents are living in an expensive West Side hotel. From her bedroom, she looks along 72nd Street toward Central Park and dreams of the elegant world of Fifth Avenue--the East Side--just across the Park.

On our trip to "Edith Wharton's New York City" in May, we will have a guided walking tour of the exclusive East Side that drew Undine Spragg and other Wharton heroines. At 70th Street and Fifth Avenue we will visit the mansion of Henry Clay Frick, one of the newly rich business magnates of Wharton's era, and see his unparalleled collection of art. We'll then have lunch at the Boathouse in Central Park and afterward walk to the Metropolitan Museum of Art up Fifth Avenue

Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library invites you to read The Custom of the Country and join in a book discussion on Saturday, February 15, at 1:00 p.m. in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room in the Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Avenue. The event is free and open to the public; street parking around the library is free on Saturdays.

Edith Wharton: Town and Country

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French Architecture in New York City

Edith Wharton traveled widely in Europe from the time she was a child and was fluent in French and Italian. Her travel books about Italy and France display her thorough knowledge of the architecture of European cathedrals, abbeys, fortresses, and villas. Though she never gave up her American citizenship, she eventually settled in France, purchased two homes there, and was buried in Versailles.

On our tour of "Edith Wharton's New York City" in May, we will visit a unique institution that embodies the architecture and culture Wharton knew so well: the Cloisters Museum and Gardens. The Cloisters is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art of medieval Europe. The building, which is constructed of Romanesque and Gothic elements from French abbeys, houses a collection of paintings, sculpture, and tapestries from the Middle Ages. Among its treasures are "The Unicorn Tapestries", seven world-famous hangings from the late 15th century depicting the hunt for the unicorn.

We are lucky that our visit to the Cloisters will coincide with a special exhibit of six stained glass windows from England's Canterbury Cathedral. The windows have never left the cathedral precincts since their creation in the late 12th century. The month of May will also be a perfect time to see the three gardens of the Cloisters, which cultivate medieval herbs and plants as well as flowers and trees that appear in the Unicorn Tapestries. For a few hours we will feel that we are in Edith Wharton's Europe, transported from the busy metropolis outside.


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