The Touchstone is a novella, written by Edith Wharton in 1900; it was the first of her many stories describing life in old New York. Stephen Glennard, the novella’s protagonist, is suddenly impoverished and unable to marry the woman he loves. He sells the private letters a former admirer had written to him, before she had become a famous author. He is later overcome by guilt for betraying one who had loved him.
Edith Wharton, born Edith Newbold Jones; January 24, 1862, was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, short story writer, and designer. She was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1927, 1928 and 1930. Wharton combined her insider’s view of America’s privileged classes with a brilliant, natural wit to write humorous, incisive novels and short stories of social and psychological insight. She was well acquainted with many of her era’s other literary and public figures, including Theodore Roosevelt. She died on August 11, 1937.