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Edith Wharton’s home to play host to literary feast

Edith Wharton’s home to play host to literary feast

Edith Wharton, nearly three-quarters of a century after her death, has filled in a gap in the Berksh

Berkshire WordFest

WHERE: The Mount, 2 Plunkett St., Lenox, Mass.

WHEN: Friday through Sunday, July 25

HOW MUCH: Price varies for different programs, but there are $100 day passes for Saturday, and $80 day passes for Sunday. See schedule below

MORE INFO: (413) 551-5113, www.edithwharton.org, berkshirewordfest.org

Edith Wharton, nearly three-quarters of a century after her death, has filled in a gap in the Berkshires.

The Berkshire WordFest, a literary festival showcasing 20 of the country’s most highly acclaimed writers, will be held from Friday through next Sunday at The Mount, Wharton’s home in Lenox, Mass.

“The creative economy report said that the Berkshires and the surrounding areas were abundant with cultural activities of all types, music and theater, but the one piece that was missing was a literary component,” said Susan Wissler, executive director at The Mount. “That’s the void we’re seeking to fill with Wharton’s legacy. It’s an idea we’ve been kicking around for a few years, and our current board of trustees supported the idea and said to move it from a concept to reality.”

Among the top authors scheduled to appear are Garrison Keilor, Susan Orlean, Elinor Lipman and Simon Winchester.

“The whole cast is really first rate, and one of the reasons we were able to draw such an impressive stable of writers right out of the gate is because of Wharton’s legacy,” said Wissler.

“There is a continuing admiration of her work by many of today’s top writers. They appreciate her contribution to literature.”

The Mount has been open to the public since 1980 but was nearly closed in 2008 due to lack of funds. “Obviously, we’re on much firmer ground than we were two years ago,” said Wissler.

“We’ve reduced our debt by 40 percent and we continue to reach out for more support. Through events like this one we raise our visibility and hopefully show people why The Mount is such an important place.”

The Schedule

Friday

6-9 p.m. — The Forecourt: Festival Opener, with special guest and honoree Francine Prose (introduced by local author Louisa Gilder) $50 per ticket.

Saturday

8:30-10 a.m. — The Terrace: Books for Breakfast, with novelist Elizabeth Brundage. $40 for non-members; $35 Mount members.

10:30 a.m.-noon — The Stables: Channeling Edith Wharton:” Old Money, New Money,” a discussion with Kurt Andersen, Tad Friend, Katy Lederer, Martha McPhee and moderator Simon Winchester. $40 non-members; $35 members.

11 a.m.-noon — Tent in the Glen: Ruth Reichl is In Conversation with Joe Donahue. $25 non-members; $20 members.

12:30-1 p.m. — The Terrace: Poetry on the Terrace, readings by Leslie Harrison and Lawrence Raab. Free with festival ticket or $10 Grounds pass.

1:30-3 p.m. — The Stables: Channeling Edith Wharton: “Writers in Wartime,” a discussion with John Hockenberry, Elizabeth Samet, Tatjana Soli, and moderator Frank Delaney. $40 non-members; $35 members.

2-3 p.m. — Tent in the Glen: Jim Shepard is In Conversation with Joe Donahue. $25 non-members; $20 members.

3:30-4 p.m. — The Terrace: Poetry on the Terrace, readings by Deborah Bernhardt and Abbot Cutler. Free with festival ticket or $10 Grounds pass.

4-5 p.m. — Tent in the Glen: Roy Blount Jr. is In Conversation with Joe Donahue. $25 non-members; $20 members.

6-8 p.m. — The Stables: Cocktails Inside & Out with festival authors. $100 per ticket; complimentary for Festival Fundraiser ticketholders.

7:30-10:30 p.m. — Seven Hills Inn: Festival Fundraiser, with special guest and honoree Garrison Keillor and master of ceremonies Frank Delaney. Tickets start at $250; price includes complimentary ticket to Cocktails event (proceeds help underwrite Berkshire WordFest).

Sunday

8:30-10 a.m. — The Terrace: Books for Breakfast, with novelist Elinor Lipman. $40 non-members; $35 members.

10:30 a.m.-noon — The Stables: Channeling Edith Wharton: “Well-Behaved Women,” a discussion with Katie Roiphe, Judith Thurman and moderator Laura Miller. $40 non-members; $35 members.

11-noon — Tent in the Glen: Dani Shapiro is In Conversation with Susan Arbetter. $25 non-members; $20 members.

12:30-1 p.m. — The Terrace: Poetry on the Terrace, readings by Peter Filkins and Michelle Gillett. Free with festival ticket or $10 Grounds pass.

2-3 p.m. — Tent in the Glen: Susan Orlean is In Conversation with Susan Arbetter. $25 non-members; $20 members.

3:30-4 p.m. — The Terrace: Poetry on the Terrace, readings by Hannah Fries and Tess Taylor. Free with festival ticket or $10 Grounds pass.

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