Sunday, June 6, 2021

In the Berkshires

From Traveler:

When Edith Wharton moved to the Berkshire Mountains at the turn of the last century, she framed her departure from city life as a personal liberation. In her autobiography, amid ecstatic descriptions of the gorgeous scenery she found in western Massachusetts, she wrote that she had “at last escaped from watering-place trivialities to the real country.” Wharton was 40 years old when she left the society circles of Manhattan and the “flat frivolity” of Newport, Rhode Island, where she had a summer home, for 100-plus acres of rolling farmland just outside the village of Lenox. It was her attempt to forge a second act, a more enriching and affirming writer's life. Still, she wasn't exactly roughing it in the country. She designed and erected a stately 35-room white stucco mansion she called The Mount, which included terrazzo floors, marble fireplaces, a stable, and a spree of manicured flower gardens. The Berkshires offered Wharton her fantasy of a pastoral paradise, along with enough creature comforts and high culture to delight snooty friends like Henry James when they dropped in for a visit. She described her Berkshires bolt-hole as “my first real home.” (Read more.)


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