Wharton's Career and
Edith Wharton's literary career spanned forty-six years, from the publication of her first short story, “Mrs. Manstey's View,” in 1891 to the completion of her last, “All Souls',” in 1937. During this time she witnessed profound changes in American culture brought about by diverse factors, including the expansion of industry and the fortunes made by the robber barons, the increase in labor conflicts and political unrest, and the continuing evolution of the roles of women in public life. In her fiction, Wharton responded to what she perceived happening around her, treating some topics directly while presenting others as subtexts in her narratives.
Beginning in childhood, Edith Wharton enjoyed exercising her imagination by inventing stories to entertain herself. This interest continued into her teenage years, and by the age of fourteen she knew she wanted to be a writer, despite the lack of encouragement from her family. Her family and her peers expected Wharton to lead an active social life, allowing little time for a literary career, but Wharton never relinquished her ambition. Even though she did not pursue an active career until she was twenty-seven years old, her love of litera-