At her Berkshires estate, The Mount, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton penned classics such as “The House of Mirth” and “Ethan Frome” in the early 20th century.
Since 2014, several other women writers have developed their own work at the Georgian Revival mansion in Lenox as part of its Edith Wharton Writers-in-Residence Program. The Mount has chosen three new writers to join those ranks this March: novelists Sue Miller and Patricia Park and literary magazine editor Dayna Tortorici.
One of the goals of the program is “to continue to promote and support creative writing in the present day, with a particular focus on women,” said The Mount executive director Susan Wissler. “Because I think the challenges that Wharton faced as a female writer, a lot of them continue to exist, and so we are happy to be a champion in particular of women writers.”
Miller has written 10 novels, including National Book Critics Circle Award-nominated “Family Pictures” and Oprah’s Book Club selection “While I Was Gone,” as well as short story collection “Inventing the Abbotts” and memoir “The Story of My Father.”
And Tortorici is a co-editor-in-chief of literary magazine n+1 who has had her writing published in “The Best American Essays.”
All three finalists will receive a $1,000 stipend, work space at The Mount, and off-site lodging during three weeks in residence this March.
“They will have free run of the house that Edith Wharton built and in which she wrote some of her most important works,” Wissler said.
“The fact that Wharton really was so instrumental in the design and build of The Mount, I think you feel her DNA in the space in a way that maybe you don’t in other writers’ homes, and I think authors really resonate with that,” added The Mount public program director Michelle Daly.
Past residency program participants include Julia Phillips, whose debut novel, “Disappearing Earth,” was a finalist for the 2019 National Book Award in fiction, and Elif Batuman, a National Magazine Award-winning staff writer for The New Yorker whose debut novel, “The Idiot,” was a finalist for a 2018 Pulitzer Prize in fiction.
A group of staffers at The Mount, including Wissler and Daly, chose the 2020 writers out of more than 70 applicants from 18 states in the U.S., plus Canada, England, Italy, and Spain.
The public is invited to The Mount to hear this year’s writers chat about their careers and working in Wharton’s home during the “Writers in the House” panel on March 18 at 5 p.m. Tickets are free but must be reserved. Visit edithwharton.org for more information.