Off-campus South Dakota State University users: To download campus access theses, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your South Dakota State University ID and password.

Non-South Dakota State University users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this thesis through interlibrary loan.

Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

Paul Witherington


Edith Wharton, the most distinguished woman novelist in America before 1940, authored approximately forty novels, eighty short stories, and numerous (though nondescript) poems. Besides the novels for which she is best known, she published travel books, manuals of interior decoration, critical pieces, and short story collections. In 1 921 Mrs. Wharton won the Pulitzer Prize for The Age of Innocence. Three years later she received an honorary- doctorate in letters from Yale University--the first woman to be so distinguished--and the Academy of Arts and Sciences invited her to join what was then an almost exclusively male association. The National Institute of Arts awarded her its prestigious gold medal in 1924. Mrs. Wharton's works appealed to a remarkably varied audience, appearing in women's magazines as well as in scholarly anthologies of contemporary fiction. One of her early novels, The House of Mirth, was adapted for the stage; a novella, The Old Maid, ran successfully as a stage play and later as a motion picture starring Bette Davis. Not only did Wharton enjoy popular success, but American and English literati regarded her as their peer. Wharton found their esteem exhilarating and encouraging, for becoming a writer had been no mean task. · It meant breaking with the proprieties of her social class--proprieties ingrained in her since birth.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Wharton, Edith, 1862-1937 -- Criticism and interpretation
Feminism and literature



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University