Book Journeys – A Biltmore Love Story

by | May 25, 2017 | Book Journeys | 7 comments

A Biltmore Love Story

It’s sad to say that most of the best love stories are not widely known. We hear a great deal about people to split up, but real-life romances are not as celebrated.

TRUE LOVEThey happen. In all time periods, classes, places, and people-groups, true love has a way of making ordinary life rather extraordinary.

As we’ve toured the Biltmore the past few weeks in Book Journeys, we’ve had opportunity to see the beautiful creation George Vanderbilt envisioned when he first entered the mountains years before his grand estate was finished, but of all the beautiful things the estate housed…the relationship between George and his wife, Edith, was probably the most memorable for me.

George Vanderbilt surprised his love, Edith, in 1898 when he brought her to his romantic castle in Asheville after their wedding. Here is Edith's engagement photo.:

Edith’s Engagement Photo – Pinterest

George was considered a confirmed bachelor and Edith an ‘old’ maid at the time the two of them began an attachment. Having been among the same circles for years, it wasn’t until one of George’s friends encouraged the two of them to spend time together as they traveled aboard ship to France, that a romance began to bloom.


George’s more introverted and bookish personality bloomed in Edith’s vibrant and social wake. There was a genuine excitement about their marriage to each other, and despite the immaculate wealth of the Vanderbilts, they both chose a fairly simple wedding.

George W. Vanderbilt canceled his booking aboard Titanic the day before her scheduled departure. Supposedly, his mother convinced him that maiden voyages were too troublesome.:

George W. Vanderbilt – Pinterest

The Philadelphia Record reported this of the wedding: It was a union of quiet contentment…There probably never was so unostentatious a Vanderbilt wedding since the family made its millions. It is true that the church was full of costumes and the company was very fine, but there was an altogether marked quietness of tone and an absence of display.


After a four month honeymoon abroad, they returned home…man and wife, with great fanfare from the townspeople, tenants, and servants from Biltmore. The tenants lined the road as George and Edith rode forward and in the quiet of their first evening in their magnificent home, fireworks lit the night sky.

The classic story of a father's love: George #Vanderbilt and Cornelia Vanderbilt. #Biltmore:

George with his daughter Cornelia – Pinterest

They both had an abiding love for learning and bringing education to others. With their quick minds and compassion, they opened schools of various kinds for the mountain people of Appalachia and took a surprising interest in the meekest and poorest of those people within their influence.


Biltmore’s New Star “A new star has appeared at famous Biltmore, and the charming mistress of this most gorgeous home is smiling upon her first born, a tiny girl called Cornelia Stuyvesant Vanderbilt...”:

Edith with her daughter Cornelia – Pinterest 


Edith Vanderbilt’s reputation was one of sophistication, grace, and the unique ability to relate to people of all different social classes and rank, which would become one of her most memorable features to the servants and townspeople of Biltmore. George was a visionary with a generous heart.

Biltmore truly became a ‘home’ for them, especially when their only child, Cornelia, was born.

George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge:

George and Edith Vanderbilt at Bucksprings Lodge – Pinterest

Though their marriage ended too soon with George’s untimely death only sixteen years after they married, their legacy of compassion, ingenuity, and helping-others-help-themselves continued on in Edith’s life. She pursued her and George’s dream by selling a large portion of land to the United States Forest Service to create Pisgah National Forest. Her legacy, and Biltmore’s, continued and still goes on today…but the ‘story’ of their romance is worth telling.


I hope to do that some day 😊


  1. lelandandbecky

    I LOVE this!! ~quiet contentment~ Ahhh! Thanks for a great blog!

  2. PamCrist

    What a warm, touching look at the Vanderbilts! I’m smiling right now.

  3. pepperbasham

    They were amazing people. I hope to write THEIR love story some day because it sounds rather fascinating

  4. Paula S.

    That was wonderful. Did they have a summer home where all the rich went to to get out of the heat? Whatever happened to their daughter? Thanks, Pepper!

    • pepperbasham

      Well, Biltmore was in Asheville so a lot of their rich friends would come here, but they also had a house in DC (I believe) and one in NYC

  5. Cordially Barbara

    Hmmmm. I so enjoyed this glimpse into the lives of Edith and George. I’m always fascinated with the lives of people who have gone on before us.


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