Edith Wharton is perhaps best known
for her novels and short stories about social class and gender
in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Less known,
but equally important, are her nonfiction works on American interior
decoration and architecture.
Wharton co-wrote The
Decoration of Housesone of the first American historical
studies of interior designand contributed numerous articles
to nineteenth-century magazines on domestic and landscape architecture.
Edith Wharton's summer home in Lenox, Massachusetts, is an example
of the renaissance in American art and architecture that began
in the 1870s and extended into the early 1900s.
The Mount demonstrates a return to classical
simplicity in American home design. The home also illustrates
the evolution of American interior design and landscape architecture
at the turn of the twentieth century.
Wharton's years at The Mount (from 1902 to
1911) were among the most productive of her career. She wrote
her best-selling novel, The House of Mirth, and several
short stories there. She also completed her travel books, Italian
Villas and Their Gardens and Italian Backgrounds.
Wharton's productivity was facilitated by the
design of The Mount as a writer's retreat, which allowed her to
Wharton was involved in the decoration of all
of her homes throughout the years.But
The Mount was the first home to be commissioned, designed, and
built according to her design philosophies. These philosophies
were shared by the artists and architects of the American Renaissance