Novelist Edith Wharton's library sold for $2.6 million to her estate

The personal library of Edith Wharton, the aristocratic novelist and confidant of Henry James, was purchased this week by her estate for $2.6 million (Ђ2.17 million).

The 2,600-volume &to=' target=_blank>library includes a first edition of "Alice in Wonderland" with pages worn by Wharton's fingers as a child, and works with personal inscriptions from James and Theodore Roosevelt.

"Nothing informs us more of the extraordinary genius of this woman than these books," said Stephanie Copeland, director of the Mount, Wharton's estate and 48-acre gardens in Lenox. "What they will bring to Wharton scholarship is beyond value."

A benefactor who wants to remain anonymous funded the purchase Monday from George Ramsden, a British bookseller who has cared for the collection since 1984, Copeland said.

The Mount hopes to use the acquisition as a fundraising tool by encouraging admirers to "adopt a book" for fees ranging from $1,000 (Ђ835) to $1 million (Ђ835,000). Proceeds will help restore Wharton's home and gardens.

The most expensive book up for adoption will be Wharton's copy of "The Decoration of Houses," her first published work. Others include James' "The Golden Bowl," with an inscription by the author that reads, "To Edith Wharton _ in sympathy."

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