Edith Wharton (1862-1937) was born into an old, wealthy New York family characterized by its devotion to tradition and its repression of emotion. Wharton was quite unhappily married, finally divorcing her husband after many years of separation. Her writing is marked by its portrayal of women who struggle to escape from the constraints placed on them, women trying to live in a future state of freedom that hasn't yet arrived. Lily Bart, heroine of The House of Mirth (1905), is typical of these heroines, in that her determination to live as a modern woman and her need to conform to social standards produce such conflict that she is ultimately undone by it. The Age of Innocence (1920) describes another such conflict between past and future, as a love forbidden by the hidebound world of Old New York (a world Wharton knew all too well) becomes impossible even when the old strictures are loosened, as the rules themselves have deadened those who follow them to the possibility of freedom.