W.E.B Du Bois Professor of the Humanities Henry Louis Gates Jr. and journalist and human rights advocate Kati Marton have been honored with the ninth annual Edith Wharton Women of Achievement Awards. The awards were presented at an April 7 ceremony by Edith Wharton Restoration, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration of The Mount – the author’s 1902 estate and gardens in Lenox.
Created in 1996, the Edith Wharton Awards recognize women who have achieved in areas in which the author herself excelled. As part of the awards program, the Henry James Award was established in 1998 to honor men who have advanced the cause of women of achievement. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard, received the Henry James Award for his efforts in rediscovering and promoting lost or forgotten women writers. These include his rediscovery in 1981 of “Our Nig” (published in 1859 by Harriet E. Wilson) – the first novel published in the United States by a black author; his reassessment of 18th century poet Phillis Wheatley; and his recent discovery and publication of Hannah Crafts’ “The Bondwoman’s Narrative,” which dates from the 1850s and is probably the first novel written by a former slave.
Honored with the Edith Wharton Award for Journalism, Marton has successfully combined a career as an internationally acclaimed journalist and reporter advocating for human rights, women’s health, and journalistic freedom.Her accomplishments reflect two important elements of Wharton’s life that are little known today: Wharton’s influential reporting from the front lines in World War I, and her extensive relief work among refugees in France during that time.