(LENOX, Mass.) – Filmmaker Martin Scorsese, folk-rock star James Taylor, National Book Award-winner Joyce Carol Oates, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan, Governor Deval L. Patrick and Senator John Kerry are among those who have signed on as members of The Mount’s National Committee, chaired by former First Lady Laura Bush, in honor of the 150th birthday of Edith Wharton.
The Committee is comprised of the highest echelon of authors, designers, architects and others, including designer Tory Burch; Gossip Girl creator Cecily von Ziegesar; international security consultant Susan Eisenhower; New Yorker writer Susan Orlean; actor Karen Allen; designer Bunny Williams; architext Robert A.M. Stern; novelist Francine Prose; cellist Yo-Yo Ma; radio personality and author Garrison Keillor; novelist Jonathan Franzen; designer Oscar de la Renta; and etiquette expert Letitia Baldridge.
The Mount created this select group in anticipation of 2012, when it will celebrate Edith Wharton’s 150th birthday by presenting a series of events highlighting her significant influence on contemporary culture, literature, entertainment, and design. Funds raised by the National Committee will underwrite these programs as well as provide general operating support for The Mount, Edith Wharton’s beloved home. Invitations were sent to notable Wharton admirers and fans as well as supporters of The Mount. The invitations were enthusiastically received and the National Committee is now comprised of over 125 luminaries from all walks of life. To date the Committee has raised over $125,000 and hopes to raise an additional $25,000 by Wharton’s birthday on January 24, 2012.
“It’s gratifying to see the swell of support to commemorate this remarkable woman and her legacy,” said Susan Wissler, executive director of The Mount. “All the Committee members have a deep respect and passion for Edith Wharton and her work and achievements, whether in the fields of literature, design, architecture, landscaping, or her extraordinary humanitarian efforts during World War I or just her remarkable zest for life. The National Committee sends a powerful message as to the enduring significance of Edith Wharton and The Mount. The continuing relevance of Wharton is a theme we will explore throughout the 2012 season.”
Among his many critically acclaimed films, Martin Scorsese brought an adaptation of Wharton’s 1920 novel The Age of Innocence to the silver screen. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Winona Ryder and Michelle Pfeiffer, the film won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, and was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Winona Ryder), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score and Best Art Direction.
Those interested in joining The Mount’s National Committee as a $1,500 Sesquicentennial Sponsor should contact Susan Wissler at 413.551.5111.
Edith Wharton, born in 1862 into a tightly controlled society known as “Old New York,” broke down barriers to become one of America’s greatest writers at a time when women were discouraged from achieving anything beyond a proper marriage. 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. Edith Wharton designed and built her “first real home,” The Mount, in 1902.
Essentially self-educated, she was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Yale, and full membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
The Mount is both a historic site and a cultural destination 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.
During the time Edith Wharton called The Mount her home, she embarked on a decade of transformation. Wharton went from being sickly, trapped in a loveless marriage and unpublished to realizing her personal and professional potential. She left The Mount one of the most celebrated and highest paid authors of her time. While at The Mount, Wharton wrote both Ethan Frome and The House of Mirth.
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.