English Professor Discovers Unknown Title for Edith Wharton’s Novel
Jennifer Haytock discovered a previously unknown title for Edith Wharton’s novel “The Children” in the archives at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, and published an essay on its implications.
Jennifer Haytock published “Judith Wheater’s Queer Vision: Edith Wharton’s Alternative Title for ‘The Children’” based on her discovery in the archives at Yale University. Previously unknown to scholars, Wharton had written an alternative title, “The Family,” on the back of a manuscript page. With this information, Haytock argues that that the novel, published in 1928, interrogates American society’s reliance on and reproduction of inherited structures of family, gender, and age categories.
Through its main female character, “The Children” offers a queer vision in which children form their own familial unit that retains the pleasures of childhood, claims the benefits of adulthood, and rejects the impermanence and perils of heteronormative coupling. This essay appeared in the fall 2020 issue of the Edith Wharton Review.