It is fortunate for literary historians that Thornton Wilder and Edmund Wilson did not meet at the Princeton-Yale football game or, heaven forbid, in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s bedroom. They were brought together instead at one of Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s weekend debauches at their rented estate of Ellerslie, outside Wilmington, Delaware, in the winter of 1928. Wilson had heard that the Fitzgeralds’ latest parties were “on a more elaborate scale than their old weekends at Westport or Great Neck,” an impression confirmed by the invitation. “All is prepared for February 25th,” Fitzgerald wrote Wilson. “The stomach pumps are polished and set out in rows, stale old enthusiasms are being burnished…. Pray gravity to move your bowels. It’s little we get done for us in this world. Answer. Scott.” Ellerslie proved to be an imposing white mansion built during the 1840s, with majestic Greek columns and high-ceilinged rooms. “I had never seen Scott and Zelda in such a magnificent setting,” Wilson wrote in his vivid account of the occasion in The Shores of Light. The main attraction for Wilson turned out not to be the house, the booze, or the women–who included Gerald Murphy’s younger sister Esther–but a fellow writer. “I arrived there with Thornton Wilder,” Wilson wrote, “whom I had not known before and whose books I had not read.”

more from TNR here.