Thornton Wilder and Marian MacDowell


Commentary by Robin Rausch
Music Specialist at The Library of Congress

Thornton Wilder worked on his breakout novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" at the MacDowell Colony. And in 1928 he wrote to Mrs. MacDowell and recalled the summer that he was working on that book.

"Dear Mrs. MacDowell,
It makes me very happy just to hear from you. I am one of your loyalest and most indebted boys. Now you must not be impatient with me for saying that the opportunity of seeing your wonderful and tireless devotion to an idea remains a sort of message to me. Long sections of 'The Bridge of San Luis Rey' were written in the valley below Emil's garden. I would write a page and then go out and walk around in the sunlight until I had stopped crying. The ants on page 143 were the very ants that were trying to destroy the New Jersey studio."

And then he ends this letter, saying,

"I hope it will not be long before one of these Sunday evenings you will again be trying to shoo me out of the kitchen. I am a Peterboroughvian for good, and when my teaching routine is at last over I want to be a real soldier for you in more practical fields. With all my admiration and affection, Thornton Wilder."

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