Honors and Losses: 1916



the year 1916 did not begin auspiciously for edith wharton’s war work. In late December of 1915, the French Ministry of Public Education requisitioned the building where her sewing workroom was located, displacing its ninety women. Wharton closed the workroom for a lengthened Christmas vacation and took her fight to the French bureaucracy. She spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day in the offices of the ministry, trying first to arrange a delay and then to secure a new building. Finally the government, “realizing they have made a ‘gaffe,’ have ordered me an ‘amende honourable’ by hiring & putting at my disposal ‘pour la durée de la guerre’ a whole floor in a big building of the Boulevard St. Germain, in wh[ich] I hope to be installed at the end of next week.”1 Relieved but exhausted, Wharton spent New Year’s Day at the Children of Flanders refugee center in St Ouen and at the Bureau de la Santé.2


Rockefeller Foundation Refugee Child French Government Christmas Tree Christmas Vacation 
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  1. 5.
    Charles Scribner was able to buy so heavily at the auction because the firm was having a very good Christmas season. He wrote his London agent: “The holiday trade is excellent and I hear nothing but praise of the retail floor and I think the clerks are doing better than usual. The wholesale demand is also very good now and we are quite sold out of the ‘Men of the Old Stone Age’ and ‘Beautiful Gardens in America’ which two seem to be purchased largely as holiday gifts. I think we go into the New Year in pretty good shape.” Quoted in James E. Sait, “Charles Scribner’s Sons and the Great War,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 48 (Winter 1987): 159.Google Scholar
  2. 24.
    Shari Benstock, No Gifts from Chance: A Biography of Edith Wharton (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994), 288.Google Scholar
  3. 28.
    André Gide, January 23, 1916, The Journals of André Gide, vol. 2, translated and annotated by Justin O’Brien (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1951), 119.Google Scholar
  4. 29.
    Ibid., January 25, 1916, 120.Google Scholar
  5. 45.
    Wharton to Theodora Bosanquet, March 1, 1916, Houghton Library, Harvard. Henry James and Edith Wharton Letters: 1900–1915 ed. Lyall H. Powers (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1990), 391.Google Scholar
  6. 56.
    Nicky Mariano, Forty Years with Berenson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966), 180–181.Google Scholar
  7. 127.
    Quoted in Arline Boucher Tehan, Henry Adams in Love: The Pursuit of Elizabeth Sherman Cameron (New York: Universe Books, 1983), 258.Google Scholar
  8. 128.
    John Gardner Coolidge, A War Diary in Paris, 1914–1917 (Cambridge, MA: Riverside Press, 1931), 160–161.Google Scholar

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© Alan Price 1996

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