The Mount, Home and Garden of Edith Wharton, Launches First Annual Literary Festival, Berkshire Wordfest

June 28, 2010

Sheet Music from Song Based on the 1923 film. "Glimpses of the Moon" Edith Wharton, The Mount's Collection

Sheet Music from Song Based on the 1923 film, "Glimpses of the Moon" Edith Wharton, The Mount's Collection

From the “Grand Dame” of Champagne

to the “Dark Lady” of American literature, eight intriguing and

influential figures are the focus of this summer’s Lecture Series at The Mount.

The series, now in its seventeenth season, brings acclaimed biographers and

memoirists to Edith Wharton’s estate for fascinating talks exploring an array

of cultural icons–and a few notable iconoclasts. The talks are held every

Monday from July 12 through August 30 at 4 p.m. in The Mount’s Stable

auditorium. Tea and a book signing follow each talk. Tickets

are $18 for members of The Mount, $20 non-members. They may be

purchased by calling (413) 551-5113.

“Our annual Lecture

Series has become one of The Mount’s signature summer offerings,” said

Susan Wissler, Executive Director. “And with good reason: these popular

talks are invitations into the lives and lore of some truly captivating

figures. We are so pleased to welcome this year’s line-up of distinguished

authors to The Mount, and excited to bring another season of talks to Berkshire audiences.”

2010 Lecture Series Line-Up

Tilar J. Mazzeo

Tilar J. Mazzeo

July 12

“The Widow Clicquot:

The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman

Who Ruled It”

Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of

“The Widow Clicquot”

Cultural historian and

biographer Tilar J. Mazzeo tells the sparkling tale of Champagne’s “Grand Dame,” the

visionary and legendary young widow who built a champagne empire among the

chaos of the Napoleonic Wars, and showed the world how to live with glamour,

style, and luxury.

T.J. Stiles, Photo by Joanne Chan

T.J. Stiles, Photo by Joanne Chan

July 19

“The First Tycoon: The

Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt”

T.J. Stiles, author of

“The First Tycoon”

2010 Pulitzer Prize winner

T.J. Stiles captures the extraordinary life of American icon Cornelius

Vanderbilt: brutally competitive, founder of a dynasty, creator of an

impossibly vast fortune.

July 26

“How to Be a Movie

Star: Hollywood’s

Golden Age with Katherine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor”

William J. Mann, author of

“How to Be a Movie Star”

The biographer of Katherine

Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor talks about the business of star-making and the

merchandizing of fame during Hollywood’s

studio era. William J. Mann has “set new standards in movie

biography,” according to historian and critic David Thomson.

Laurence Bergreen, Photo by Sigrid Estrada

Laurence Bergreen, Photo by Sigrid Estrada

August 2

“Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu”

Laurence Bergreen, author of

“Marco Polo”

Biographer and historian

Laurence Bergreen creates an enthralling portrait of how Marco Polo was able to

get to thirteenth-century China—and

what he saw, felt, and did when he arrived. The lecture will be accompanied bypan>

color reproductions of medieval miniatures as well as spectacular photographs

of the Silk Road.

Elena Gorokhova, Photo by Jacobia Dahm

Elena Gorokhova, Photo by Jacobia Dahm

August 9

“A Mountain of Crumbs:

Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain”

Elena Gorokhova, author of

“A Mountain of Crumbs”

In this intimate and deeply

moving story, called the “the Russian equivalent of Angela’s Ashes,”

Elena Gorokhova re-creates her youth in the Soviet Union

of the 1960s—a world that both oppressed and inspired her. Through

Gorokhova’s captivating voice, we learn the story of one rebellious citizen

whose love of a foreign language finally transports her to a new world.

Judith Tankard, Photo by Eric Roth

Judith Tankard, Photo by Eric Roth

August 16

“On Garden Design:

Beatrix Farrand and Edith Wharton”

Judith Tankard, author of

“Beatrix Farrand”

Award-winning landscape

historian and author Judith Tankard will explore the various roles Edith

Wharton played in helping to shape the career of her famous niece, Beatrix

Farrand. Although Wharton and Farrand’s lifestyles and personal gardens were

quite different, they shared a mutual love of gardening.

August 23

Lecture to be announced

Joan Schenkar, Photo by L. Parade

Joan Schenkar, Photo by L. Parade

August 30

“The Talented Miss

Highsmith and Her Secret Life in Lenox”

Joan Schenkar, author of

“The Talented Miss Highsmith,” with dramatic readings by Kathleen

Chalfant. Our final lecture is based on the long-awaited literary biography of

the “Dark Lady” of American literature, Patricia Highsmith, whose own

life was often as twisted as that of her antihero Tom Ripley. Joan Schenkar,

award-winning playwright and biographer, will illuminate how Highsmith’s demons

played out on the page and in real life. The Talented Miss Highsmith has

received rave reviews across the United States.

For Tickets and More


All lectures begin at 4 p.m.

and are followed by a tea and book signing. Tickets are $18 for Mount members,

$20 for non-members. Students with valid identification receive a $5 discount.

Discounts are also available when purchasing tickets to multiple lectures.

Please call (413) 551-5113 to purchase tickets or visit for

more information. Seating is limited; early ticket purchase is highly


About The Mount

The Mount is both a historic

site and a center for culture inspired by the passions and achievements of

Edith Wharton. Designed and built by Edith Wharton in 1902, the house embodies

the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses

(1897). The property includes three acres of formal gardens designed by

Wharton, who was also an authority on European landscape design, surrounded by

extensive woodlands. Programming at The Mount reflects Wharton’s core interests

in the literary arts, interior design and decoration, garden and landscape

design, and the art of living. Annual exhibits explore themes from Wharton’s

life and work. On July 23-25, 2010, The Mount launches its first annual literary

festival, Berkshire WordFest, bringing together acclaimed writers and

passionate readers in one of the most beautiful settings in the Berkshires.

Learn more at

About Edith Wharton

Edith Wharton (1862-1937)

was born into the tightly controlled society of Old New York at a time when

women were discouraged from achieving anything beyond a proper marriage.

Wharton broke through these strictures to become one of America’s greatest writers. Author

of The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth, she wrote over 40

books in 40 years, including authoritative works on architecture, gardens,

interior design, and travel. Essentially self-educated, she was the first woman

awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, an honorary Doctorate of Letters from

Yale University, and a full membership in the American Academy of Arts and



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