Malkin Lecture: The Age of Innocence at 100 Years

This year marks the centennial anniversary of Edith Wharton’s great novel, The Age of Innocence. This lavishly illustrated lecture will explore Edith Wharton’s New York, both the New York of the 1870s that is portrayed in The Age of Innocence, and the New York of Edith Wharton’s life, from her birth as Edith Newbold Jones in a building still standing at 14 West 23rd Street in 1862 to her move to Paris in the first decade of the new century. We will see how much of the world of The Age of Innocence can still be seen in the streets of New York (surprisingly, a lot more than you’d think). We’ll also look at the New York world she knew and wrote about in many works besides The Age of Innocence (such as The House of Mirth and The Custom of the Country), and in so doing cut a broad swath through 40 years of New York’s cultural history and social geography to see a city that is in some ways very remote from our own, and in remarkable ways very familiar to us more than a century later.

Francis Morrone is an architectural historian, writer, and the author of 13 books, including Guide to New York City Urban Landscapes (W.W. Norton, 2013) and, with Henry Hope Reed, The New York Public Library: The Architecture and Decoration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (W.W. Norton, 2011), as well as architectural guidebooks to Philadelphia and to Brooklyn. He is the recipient of the Arthur Ross Award of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art, Landmarks Lion Award of the Historic Districts Council, and New York University’s Excellence in Teaching Award, and was named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the “Thirteen Best Tour Guides in the World.”

Edith Wharton as a young woman, ca. 1889. Edith Wharton Collection/Beinecke 10061396.


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