The Mount–Edith Wharton’s House
Last weekend, my wanderlust and I drove out to Lenox, in Western Massachusetts, to visit The Mount, the estate that Edith Wharton designed and lived in from 1902-1911.
Inspired by her love of architecture and landscaping, Wharton designed her home to have all of the elements she admired most included. Her first published book remains important in design even today–1897’s The Decoration of Houses. The Mount was purchased by the Edith Wharton Restoration in 1980 following years of neglect, finally opening to the public as a monument to the writer only recently.
I took a tour of the house, which features many of the original books from her vast collection, as well as exhibits on her life and work.
She wrote House of Mirth here, writing longhand in bed, where she would toss the pages to the ground when she was finished where her secretary would retrieve them and type them up while Wharton went about the business of entertaining and running the house.
There are manicured gardens and peaceful woods surrounding the house, and this summer, there is a sculpture installation throughout the grounds as well. One of my favorite parts of the day was wandering around the grounds after the house tour, getting a little lost and enjoying the quiet and solitude.
Before I went to the house, I knew Edith Wharton only as the novelist famous for The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence. I had no idea she was the first woman to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize (in 1928), that she wrote over 40 books in 40 years, and that she was a respected designer and landscape architect (self-taught, as women weren’t educated then).
I’m not really in the habit of just getting in my car and driving somewhere for the day, but I’m learning how to enjoy my time alone and spend it in ways that aren’t just practical, but are meaningful and worthwhile to me. So I’m trying to make solo travel and adventures something of a habit, and I think this mini road trip out to The Mount was the perfect start to what I hope will become something of a tradition. I think Edith would have been pretty proud.
Do you take solo trips? If so, where do you go?