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Scale of Living

In response to:

"Angel of Devastation" from the January 6, 1966 issue

To the Editors:

I have two minor comments on Eleanor Clark’s excellent piece on Edith Wharton in the January 6 issue.

In fairness to Olivia Coolidge, it should be pointed out that the reason for what Miss Clark calls the drop into fifth-grade prose is that the book is a juvenile. This does not appear on the cover, but I helped Mrs. Coolidge with some of her material, and I know that the book was prepared as a reader for young girls. Miss Clark also asks why Mrs. Wharton wrote for slick magazines. She assumes that Mrs. Wharton must have been very rich and suggests that there was a mystery about her money. There is no such mystery that I know of. Mrs. Wharton enjoyed the income of two family trusts under her mother’s and father’s wills which would have supported her adequately had she maintained one establishment and a moderate scale of living. After the first war, however, she very much increased her scale of living, maintaining a large house in the south of France as well as one near Paris, and keeping as many as seventeen servants.

One need not look further than this for her interest in income from the slicks.

Louis S. Auchincloss

New York City

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