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

Marketing Professionalism: The Transatlantic Authorship of Edith Wharton

  • Sean Bex


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.


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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

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

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