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A Very Short Biography of Edith Wharton

The interesting life of a classic American novelist

In his Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives, John Sutherland calls Edith Wharton’s life ‘fascinating’. It certainly is. The novelist best-known for The Age of Innocence led an interesting life, and in this very short biography we aim to cover the most curious aspects of Edith Wharton’s life and work.

Edith Wharton was born Edith Jones in 1862, into the ‘leisure class’ of New York. As Karen Farrington observes in her compelling book of short biographies Great Lives: As heard on Radio 4, Wharton ‘wasn’t so much born with a silver spoon in her mouth as the entire cutlery set.’ Read the rest of this entry


Five Fascinating Facts about T. E. Hulme

Facts about poet and thinker T. E. Hulme

1. Hulme wrote what is arguably the first modern poem in the English language. There are numerous candidates for who was the first truly modern English poet, but one could do worse than propose T. E. Hulme (1883-1917). In 1908, on the back of a hotel bill, Hulme wrote ‘A City Sunset’ – perhaps the first recognisably ‘modern’ poem in the language. It was written in an unsentimental free verse form, took the modern city as its focus, and fused French Symbolist influences with what Hulme called a ‘classical’ spirit founded on principles of restraint and limitation. Read the rest of this entry

A Very Short Biography of Christina Rossetti

An introduction to Rossetti’s life and work

Christina Rossetti (1830-94) was one of the Victorian era’s greatest and most influential poets, along with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Algernon Charles Swinburne. In this post we offer a very short biography of Christina Rossetti, taking in the most curious and interesting aspects of her life and work.

Rossetti was the younger sister (by two years) of the Pre-Raphaelite artist and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Christina Rossetti was born in London in 1830, and lived with her mother virtually all of her life. She never married. Next to a biography of her brother Dante Gabriel, the biography of Christina Rossetti can seem tame by comparison; but her work is curious and idiosyncratic and raises interesting questions about how much it reflects her own life and her own beliefs. Read the rest of this entry