Edith Wharton (American, 1862–1937) 

Edith Wharton was born into a closely controlled society for women, but her parents hired the gifted Anna Catherine Bahlmann to be her governess in New York, and she was given access to her father’s library. At the age of 16, Verses, her collection of poems, was secretly published, and she would go on to write some of the Gilded Age’s most well-known novels regarding high society in America.

Wharton spent a large portion of her childhood in Europe, mostly in France, Germany, and Italy, where she honed her language skills and gained an appreciation for literature, art, and architecture. She wrote more than 40 books in 40 years, including authoritative volumes on architecture, gardens, interior design, and travel. She is the author of classic novels The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth. Wharton was the first woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and obtained a full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale University.