The Practice of Creativity

Women Writers from the Past Who Inspire: Jane Austen and Edith Wharton

Posted on: March 27, 2012

Guest Post by Barbara Ehrentreu

The two women writers who have influenced me wrote in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Jane Austen and Edith Wharton both wrote about every day life during their respective time periods. Both of them had feminine main characters and showed how a woman’s life was dependent upon her getting married. Yet both had very independent heroines who went against the established norms for society at their respective times.

What I like about Jane Austin’s writing is the way she was able to tell a story, yet she described her scenes in such a way you felt you were there. She brought you into everything and you felt like you were part of each scene. When I first read Emma I was unable to stop reading and though my teacher had only a few chapters assigned for us to read I found myself reading beyond them to the end of the book. The story was so compelling and although I had difficulty with some of the situations, I wanted her to end up with the dashing hero. 

I had to read Edith Wharton for a graduate college course and again I became fascinated by her attention to detail. Like Jane Austen she described each scene as if it were photographed and her characters were so real you wanted to go and put an arm around the poor woman in The House of Mirth. In The Age of Innocence the missed chances and the sadness of unrequited love are played out in such a lush setting you find yourself wanting to live their lives. The writing is so outstanding. Of course, today, some or a lot of both Jane Austen’s and Edith Wharton’s work would be considered too much telling. However both are classic authors and we can learn a great deal from their writing.

Barbara Ehrentreu

Barbara, a retired teacher lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, published by MuseItUp Publishing was inspired by Paula Danziger. Her novel is also available on Amazon for Kindle and paperback, Barnes & Noble for both paperback and Nook, Smashwords, Omnilit and of course, The Muse Bookstore. In addition, Barbara has a story in Lavender Dreams, a memorial anthology for which all the proceeds go to cancer research. She hosts Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

Check out her blog: ‘Barbara’s Meanderings’,

(Photo Credits:


3 Responses to "Women Writers from the Past Who Inspire: Jane Austen and Edith Wharton"

I have a few Edith Wharton novels in my collection but haven’t read them yet-I must get to them!

It is strange to think that some classic’s writers couldn’t get published today.

I too came to Jane Austen through my studies. I found her writing very interesting in relation to its context – the role and expectations of women in that period. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Dear Barbara, Thank you for this post about Edith Wharton. It’s exciting that in her 150th year, she is in the forefront again and inspiring new readers (& writers!). Have you read the YA biography, The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton (Clarion 2010) by Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge? I work with the author and am happy to send you a copy of the book if you are interested in reading it and perhaps offering a review on your blog. Many thanks, Robyn (

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

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