To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Today is the 152nd birthday of the great writer, and our neighbor, Edith Wharton. How perfect that she should have chosen to settle here in the Berkshire hills where she could both meet her friends and, when she wished, retire from them, and where she exercised her talents in the arts of homemaking, gardening, and, most importantly, writing, in the quiet beauty of our New England landscape.
Wharton wrote in a dozen genres, including her most famous novels and stories, but also travel books, poetry, plays, war reportage, and memoir. She was a lover of the arts, visiting museum, galleries, and stately homes all over Europe, attending the opera and concerts in the major capitals of the world, and always, always, reading and cultivating friendships with writers, not only in English, but also French and Italian.
The Mount, the beloved home that she and her husband created in Lenox, lives on to celebrate the arts Wharton pursued. On the terrace visitors can hear Wharton’s stories read by actors, poetry by local and nationally known writers and can listen to jazz under the summer stars. In the Stable, prize-winning biographers tell tales of the rich, the famous, and the obscure, each summer Monday afternoon. Exhibitions highlight Wharton’s work and life, and scholars, designers, gardeners, and writers offer talks on widely diverse topics.
Composers writing operas based on Wharton stories have shared their work in progress, young people each year are awarded prizes for their writing, and Shakespeare and Company has returned with outdoor productions. This year the grounds took on new aspects when 25 contemporary sculptures -- one by Pittsfield high school students -- were installed and new paths created to visit them. Community day saw hundreds of families picnicking, exploring, and enjoying time together on the grounds.
The Mount contributes to the cultural landscape of the Berkshires by offering numerous programs to the public and by providing a place for writers, musicians, and artists to share their work. I am proud to be a trustee and a 30-year supporter of The Mount and I feel confident that Edith Wharton would be happy to see her home brought back to life with such vibrancy.
On behalf of the Board and the staff, I invite everyone to visit, become a member, volunteer and support this local treasure.