Advertisement

Neophilologus

, Volume 100, Issue 3, pp 503–519 | Cite as

Marketing Professionalism: The Transatlantic Authorship of Edith Wharton

  • Sean Bex
Article

Abstract

Whereas many female authors of the long nineteenth century have been recovered and revalued in recent years, their relationship to the rise of professional authorship as well as their male peers has remained under analysed. Nevertheless, an understanding of the dynamic between budding American literary aspirations, the harsh commercialism of the developing national publishing scene and the profitable domestic tradition of female authors can shed new light on the development of female authorship in this period. In this article, I embed Wharton in the increasingly commercialised and transatlantic literary marketplace of her age to show how she adopted the masculine language of professionalism to distance herself from the domestic female writers which preceded her and carve out a place for her own high literary aspirations. I begin with a brief examination of her rather privileged socioeconomic background and ambitious literary aspirations before analysing more in depth her developing authorial persona throughout her career, primarily in comparison to two well-known male authors of the day, Henry James and Anthony Trollope. Wharton, I argue purposely adopted the business like attitude and commercial guise specifically avoided by her male counterparts because it guaranteed her the serious critical reception otherwise denied to female authors.

Keywords

Edith Wharton Authorship Female authorship Literary field American authorship Transatlantic Henry James An autobiography Anthony Trollope 

References

  1. Adams, A. (2011). Performing ownership: Dickens, Twain, and copyright on the transatlantic stage. American Literary Realism, 43(3), 223–241.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball, D. M. (2003). Toward an archaeology of American modernism: Reconsidering prestige and popularity in the American Renaissance. ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, 49(1–3), 161–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bassett, T. J. (2010). Living on the margin: George Bentley and the economics of the three-volume novel, 1865–70. Book History, 13, 58–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bell, M. (1995). Chronology of Wharton’s life and publications. In M. Bell (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Edith Wharton. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benstock, S. (2003). Edith Wharton, 1862–1937: A brief biography. In C. J. Singley (Ed.), A historical guide to Edith Wharton. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Bentley, N. (2003) Wharton, travel, and modernity. In C. J. Singley (Ed.), A historical guide to Edith Wharton. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Blair, S. (1995). In the house of fiction: Henry James and the engendering of literary mastery. In D. McWirter (Ed.), Henry James’s New York edition: The construction of authorship. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood.Google Scholar
  9. Buurma, R. S. (2007). Anonymity, corporate authority, and the archive: The production of authorship in late-Victorian England. Victorian Studies, 50(1), 15–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cahir, L. C. (2003). Wharton and the age of film. In C. J. Singley (Ed.), A historical guide to Edith Wharton. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Christie, R. (2006). An undergraduate American literature and identity course looks east to Great Britain. Victorian Periodicals Review, 39(4), 429–437.Google Scholar
  12. Claybaugh, A. (2006). Toward a new transatlanticism: Dickens in the United States. Victorian Studies, 48(3), 439–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Collister, P. (2007). Writing the self: Henry James and America. London: Pickering & Chatto.Google Scholar
  14. Delbanco, A. (2005). Melville: His world and work. London: Picador.Google Scholar
  15. Edel, L. (1953). Henry James: The untried years 1843–1870. London: Rupert Hart-Davis.Google Scholar
  16. Erickson, P. (2003). New books, new men: City-mysteries fiction, authorship, and the literary market. Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 1(1), 273–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hamblen, A. A. (1965). Edith Wharton in New England. The New England Quarterly, 38(2), 239–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hawthorne, N. (1962–1994). Nathaniel Hawthorne to William D. Ticknor, 19 January 1855. In W. Charvat et al. (Eds.), The letters, 18531856. Vol. 17. The centenary edition of the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.Google Scholar
  19. James, H. (1967). In T. Tanner (Ed.), Hawthorne. London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  20. Kaplan, A. (1986). Edith Wharton’s profession of authorship. ELH, 53(2), 433–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kelley, M. (2002). Private woman, public stage: Literary domesticity in nineteenth-century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar
  22. McGill, M. (2003). American literature and the culture of reprinting, 1834–1853. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McVey, S. (1975). Nineteenth century America: Publishing in a developing country. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 421, 67–80.Google Scholar
  24. Melville, H. (1987). Hawthorne and his mosses. In H. Hayford, A. A. Mac-Dougall, G. T. Tanselle, et al. (Eds.), The piazza tales, and other prose pieces, 18391860 (Vol. 9). Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press and The Newberry Library.Google Scholar
  25. Ohler, P. (2010). Forms of ambivalence to “tabloid culture” in Edith Wharton’s the Custom of the Country. ESC, 36(2), 33–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pearson, J. H. (2004). The art of self-creation: Henry James in the New York edition prefaces. In M. Demoor (Ed.), Marketing the author: Authorial personae, narrative selves and self fashioning (pp. 1880–1930). Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  27. Phegley, J. (2004). Literary piracy, nationalism, and women readers in Harper’s new monthly magazine, 1850–1855. American Periodicals: A Journal of History, Criticism, and Bibliography, 14(1), 63–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Rice, G. S. (1997). The transformation of authorship in America. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  29. Rose, J. (2004). Was capitalism good for Victorian literature? Victorian Studies, 46(3), 489–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schelstraete, J. (2014). Idle employment and Dickens’s uncommercial ruse: The narratorial entity in ‘The uncommercial traveller’. Victorian Periodicals Review, 47(1), 50–65.Google Scholar
  31. Schriber, M. S. (1987). Edith Wharton and travel writing as self-discovery. American Literature, 59(2), 257–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Singley, C. J. (2003). Introduction to a historical guide to Edith Wharton. In C. J. Singley (Ed.), a historical guide to Edith Wharton. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Stowe, W. (2009). Transatlantic subjects. American Literary History, 22(1), 159–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Todd, E. B. (2009). Establishing routes for fiction in the United States: Walter Scott’s novels and the early nineteenth-century American publishing industry. Book History, 12, 100–128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Totten, G. (2008). Critical reception and cultural capital: Edith Wharton as a short story writer. Pedagogy, 8(1), 115–133.Google Scholar
  36. Towheed, S. (2007). The correspondence of Edith Wharton and Macmillan, 1901–1930. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  37. Trollope, A. (2008a). In M. Sadleir & F. Page (Eds.), An autobiography. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Trollope, A. (2008b). North America (Vol. 2). Bedford, MA: Applewood Books.Google Scholar
  39. Warner, C. D. (2007). Washington Irving. Charleston, SC: Bibliobazaar.Google Scholar
  40. Wharton, E. (1903). The vice of reading. The North American Review, 177(563), 513–521.Google Scholar
  41. Wharton, E. (1934). A backward glance. New York: D. Appleton-Century.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Literary Studies (English Studies)Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

Personalised recommendations