the artists and architects of the American Renaissance, Edith
Wharton admired European history.
Wharton's appreciation for America's Western
heritage came from her frequent travels to Europe and her study
of European art and architectural histories.
Childhood Travels Edith Wharton, born Edith Newbold Jones in
1862, was the youngest child of George Frederic and Lucretia Jones.
The Jones family lived at 14 West Twenty-Third Street in New York
After the Civil War, the family left New York
for an extended stay in Europe. Edith Wharton spent six years
of her childhood in Paris, Rome, and Florence. She learned Italian,
French, and German; played with her friends among the Italian
Renaissance villas and gardens; and admired statues in the Villa
Borghese and fountains in the villas at Frascati. (22)
Father's Library Wharton was also influenced by several books
about world art and architectural history that she found in her
Gwilt's Encyclopaedia of Architecture,
and John Ruskin's Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps
of Architecture, were favorites.
Wharton called Fergusson's History of Architecture
"one of the most stimulating books that could fall into a young
student's hands" because "it shed on my misty haunting sense of
the beauty of old buildings the light of historical and technical
In later years, she enjoyed Vernon Lee's Studies
of the Eighteenth Century in Italy and Bernard Berenson's
Venetian Painters of the Renaissance. (24)
As an adult, Wharton recreated this Italian
landscape on her estates and in her writing.