Edith Wharton, who was the first woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her book Age of Innocence, was treated for depression and possibly Migraines. Wharton struggled with the hypocrisy of her social class and was torn between being a professional writer and a woman in society. Her passions included architecture, gardening and art, and she inspired many writers. Her work are still read today, and many of them have been turned into stage and screen productions.
Edith Newbold Jones was welcomed into the world by her parents, George Frederic Jones and Lucretia Rhinelander Jones, on January 24, 1862. Brought up with wealth and privilege, she was often thought of as an only child because brothers Frederic and Henry were much older. As a young child, Wharton was creative and precocious - with one of her favorite games called "making up." In this game, even before she could read, Wharton would swiftly walk around a room with an open book pretending to read and formulate stories about various people. Soon she began reading and her game evolved into reading part of a book and then making up the rest of the story.
When she was four years-old, the family spent five years in Europe visiting France, Germany, Italy and Spain where she was able to learn French and German under various tutors. She loved to read in her father's libraries and didn't attend school due to the constraints of her social class. By the time Wharton turned 10 years old, she was writing stories and poems. At 15 years old her novella Fast and Loose was published. During this time, Wharton met Walter Berry and the two remained dear friends throughout her life. The two worked on her writing to develop her style and she was eventually buried next to him in France.
When Wharton was 23 years old she married Edward Robbins, thirteen years her senior. Edward was a wealthy Bostonian banker, but seemed to be sick the majority of the time. The couple moved to Newport, Rhode Island where she spent many hours decorating and redesigning her home with architect Ogden Codman. The two published a book, The Decoration of Houses, which contained a new look with more streamlined and symmetrical qualities - it became very popular and sold quite well. While she was working on her home, she managed to write some short stories, including: The Greater Inclination, Crucial Instances, The Descent of Man and Other Stories and The Hermit and the Wild Woman. When Wharton's mother died in 1901, she started to construct and create a new home - "The Mount" in Lenox, Massachusetts (which isn't far from where I used to live). It is now a National Historic Landmark.
The Whartons did not share a happy marriage. In fact, Edith spent a lot of time in Europe where she met and had one of many affairs with Morton Fullerton. It's been reported that she was sick for the majority of the time in her marriage, complaining of headaches, nausea, excessive tiredness, depression and asthma. Her husband also had an affair of his own and stole money from his wife so he could support his mistress. Edith divorced Robbins in 1913. While in Europe, Wharton made sure she was surrounded by artists and other writers whom she shared intellect with. When Americans Henry Adams, Henry James and Theodore Roosevelt were in France, they could be found visiting her.