Study Guide

The House of Mirth Characters

By Edith Wharton

Miss Lily Bart

Lily Bart is 29 when House of Mirth begins. She's beautiful – in a show-stopping kind of...

Mr. Lawrence Selden

In The House of Mirth, Selden stands out for his dispassionate air toward society and money. He's...

Mr. Simon Rosedale

The most interesting thing about Rosedale is the way Lily's vision of him – and accordingly...

Miss Gerty Farish

We were all ready to describe Gerty to you in heartbreaking detail, but then we remembered that...

Mrs. Carry Fisher

"Small, fiery, and dramatic," this "striking divorcee" is one of the most interesting characters...

Mrs. Bertha Dorset

"For always getting what she wants in the long run, commend me to a nasty woman." Mrs. Bertha...

Mr. George Dorset

George Dorset is the quintessential House of Mirth husband. He makes a lot of money, he doesn't...

Mrs. Julia Peniston

Lily's rich aunt who takes her in after her parents die. Julia is an old-fashioned woman and...

Miss Grace Stepney

Mrs. Peniston's niece and Lily's cousin. Grace is an example of what pride ultimately costs Lily;...

Mrs. Trenor

"Where Mrs. Trenor leads, all the world follows." This woman is at the top of society's elite.

Mr. Trenor

Gus Trenor is "red and massive." The physical disgust Lily feels towards this man is heightened...

Lady Skiddaw

She and her husband are more socialites in Mrs. Trenor's circle.

Lord Skiddaw

Another mostly-silent husband in the crowd at Bellomont.

Mrs. Hudson Bart

Mrs. Hudson Bart, Lily's mother, had a great skill for living beyond her means. Treated her...

Mr. Bart

Lily's "neutral-tinted" father. Ended up "ruined" (or bankrupt), and was physically destroyed by...

Mr. Percy Gryce

Lily's main candidate for marriage when the novel begins. Percy is super-rich and incredibly boring.

Mrs. Gryce

Percy's mother, "a monumental woman with the voice of a pulpit orator and a mind preoccupied with...

Mr. Jefferson Gryce

Mr. Jefferson Gryce is the owner of the famous Gryce Americana collection. He's Percy's uncle who...

"The New Heir to the Gryce Millions"

It seems that Percy and Evie have a son by the end of the novel, and this is how Wharton refers...

Mrs. Maria Van Osburgh

The matriarch of this large family. She and Mrs. Trenor are engaged in a sort of territorial...

Miss Gwen Van Osburgh

Gwen is one of Maria Van Osburgh's daughters. She is involved in a romance with Jack Stepney when...

Miss Evie Van Osburgh

Evie is the youngest of Maria Van Osburgh's three daughters. Much to Lily's dismay, Evie marries...

The other Van Osburgh daughter

The oldest of Maria's three daughters is not named. All we know is that she married Herbert...

Mr. Bertie Van Osburgh

Maria's only son, and her youngest child. Bertie is at Harvard for first half of the novel, but...

Mrs. Alice Wetherall

Another married socialite. She has her hooks in Lucius the same way Mrs. Fisher did with Ned...

Mr. Wetherall

Another quiet socialite husband.

Mr. Ned Van Alstyne

Lily's father's cousin. Rumor has it Lily borrowed money from him (before the novel's start),...

Mrs. Van Alstyne

Ned's wife. She takes part in the living portraits party at the Brys'.

Miss Molly Van Alstyne

Molly is the Alstynes' daughter. Mrs. Peniston says that Molly reminds her of herself as a young...

Mr. Ned Silverton

Ned is "a charming fair boy." He's is a young scholar who lives off wealthy, married women in...

Lucius

Like Ned, Lucius is a single young man living off a rich married woman. He is considered the...

Miss Kate Corby

"The comic woman of the company." Kate is introduced as another young, single woman at the dinner...

Miss Hilda Trenor and Miss Muriel Trenor

These two young women may be the Trenors' children, though it's not clear. They attend church...

Mr. Jack Stepney

Lily's cousin, and a bachelor when the novel begins. He becomes engaged to Gwen Van Osburgh while...

The Duchess of Beltshire

The Big Kahuna social currency in Monte Carlo. Everyone wants to be seen with her. The Duchess...

Lady Cressida Raith

The sister to the Duchess of Beltshire. She is in New York at the novel's beginning, and part of...

Lord Hubert Dacey

Lord Dacey is another wasted marriage opportunity for Lily, some time in the past (that is,...

Mr. Dabham

Mr. Dabham is a gossip who writes "Society Notes for the Riviera." He hangs out with the social...

Dillworth

A rich man that Lily had the chance to marry when she first arrived in the social scene....

Mr. Herbert Melson

Herbert Melson is the only man Lily has ever been in love with (before Selden). He married the...

Mrs. Louisa Bry

Mrs. Bry is "a lady of obscure origins and indomitable social ambitions." She throws the party in...

Mr. Wellington Bry

Mr. Bry is more interesting than his wife. He's the only one of Lily's set that actually amuses...

Mrs. Mattie Gormer

Another socialite trying to break into the elite crowd. Mrs. Fisher latches on to the Gormers...

Mr. Sam Gormer

Another silent socialite husband.

Miss Anstell

An actress with a questionable reputation who hangs with the Gormers.

Mr. Paul Morpeth

The portrait-painter for the Brys party. Lily later encounters him in the Gormers' set.

Mrs. Norma Hatch

Mrs. Hatch is the woman for whom Lily is a social secretary in Book II. She is a divorcee who...

Mr. Melville Stancy

Mr. Stancy is a divorce lawyer. He's the common acquaintance between Mrs. Fisher and Mrs. Hatch.

Miss Pragg

Mrs. Trenor's secretary. Miss Pragg absent while Lily is staying at Bellomont, which is why Lily...

Mrs. Haffen

The charwoman at the Benedick who later sells Bertha Dorset's letters to Lily.

Miss Jane Silverton

Ned's sister. She and her sister are screwed over by Ned's gambling debts, and Gerty tries to...

Miss Annie Silverton

Ned's other sister.

Madam Regina

Madam Regina owns the hat shop in which Lily works at the end of Book II.

Miss Haines

Miss Haines is the forewoman at Madame Regina's and Lily's (disgruntled) boss.

Mrs. Nettie Struther

The woman Lily encounters at the end of the novel. She shows our protagonist that it's possible...

George Struther

Nettie Struther's husband.

Nettie's Baby

The infant girl that Lily holds at the end of the novel.