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The Mount–Edith Wharton’s House

2014 June 16



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.

wharton library

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.

house of mirth


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.

wharton woods


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.

wharton saying


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?


6 Responses Post a comment
  1. Melissa permalink
    June 16, 2014

    Although I love to have company, I enjoy going to the beach solo. A good book, music and naps while listening to the waves crashing around. I could go for a beach trip right about now, in fact! I usually do end up spending solo time either cleaning or running errands or other annoying tasks, so I really hope to follow your lead and spend some time on similar solo outings.

  2. Karrin permalink
    June 16, 2014

    Good for you! I find it very difficult to travel alone, but I’ve always admired those who do. One thing I enjoy doing solo, though, is going to a movie or a show. While of course it’s enjoyable to converse with a friend afterward and share opinions, I feel freer to become fully absorbed in what I’m watching when it’s just me by myself.

  3. Lauren permalink
    June 16, 2014

    Solo trips are great! You should take the train out to Rockport and Bearskin Neck. It’s an hour outside of the city and adorable. You can walk near the water and shop at a bunch of cute shops. Great day trip… and lots of lobster.

  4. Lorraina permalink
    June 17, 2014

    Oooh, thanks for sharing these pics with us, Jill! Sounds like an awesome day. I tend to be limited to solo museum jaunts right now, but I’d like to take more day trips this summer.

  5. June 19, 2014

    How lovely! I wonder if she numbered her pages, or if her secretary had to read them in order to know in which order to type them out.

    I love taking solo trips. I recently went to Cape Town by myself–to visit my daughter who was a student there last semester. I did spend a lot of time with her, but for the actual traveling part, and for the times when she was in class, I was on my own, and I loved it.

  6. Christine R permalink
    July 8, 2014

    Jill, I was hoping to tell you that I had gone to the Mount on Saturday, but it didn’t happen. I drove out to Lenox to meet a friend for lunch, and we planned to go there afterwards but we went instead to the Botanical Gardens and Chesterwood, where she works. I have been wanting to visit the Wharton estate for ages, so I’ll have to make it a separate trip. I always have liked occasional solo sojourns – I especially like walking in a city. I like to be in the presence of lots of different people and yet have the anonymity of being one among many. I feel I “belong.”

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