In many ways, the story of Edith Wharton's library starts with religion. Wharton received copies of religious texts—including The Book of Common Prayer and works like the Lutheran theologian Richard Rothe's Stille Stunden—as presents when she was a young girl, and these volumes formed the bedrock of a library collection that was fated to grow and expand over the years. This body of religious texts furthermore indicates how Wharton, as she matured, let curiosity guide her beyond the bounds of her Episcopalian upbringing. To her collection of sacred texts and books about Christianity, Wharton added volumes about religion in ancient Greece, the history of monastic orders like the Jesuits and the Franciscans, and “Mohammedanism,” better known as Islam.

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