The Life of Edith
Tradition, heritage, and exclusivity—these defined Old New York society in the mid-nineteenth century. Into this world of privilege and decorum, Edith Newbold Jones was born on January 24, 1862. The youngest of three children and only daughter of George Frederic and Lucretia Rhinelander Jones, Edith enjoyed the benefits of her family's station in life but chafed against the restrictions it placed upon her. From her childhood on, literature became for her, both as a reader and a writer, a means of escaping these limitations.
Edith's parents were descendents of old New York and New England families, tracing their lineage to early English and Dutch settlers. George Frederic Jones was a gentleman of leisure whose inherited real estate holdings in Manhattan and Brooklyn generated the income upon which his family lived. Lucretia Rhinelander Jones, whose family had suffered financial distress after her father's death, enjoyed the pleasures of clothing, jewelry, and travel that her husband's income provided. During Edith's childhood, her parents lived by a code of decorous reserve, but Edith was fascinated by tales of her parents' courtship. One story in particular made a strong impression upon her, that of George Jones's creation of an improvised sailboat that enabled him to meet Lucretia near her family's home. Edith later used this episode to create a scene in her novella False Dawn (1924). Part of