1991: The Read House hosts Great Gatsby party

On June 1, 1991, the Society held a Great Gatsby party at the Read House. Attendees arrived in costume and were greeted by footmen in tails who escorted them from their cars. At the front door, guests shook hands with Philip and Lydia Laird and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, portrayed by Mr. and Mrs. Walter J. Laird, Jr. and Mr. and Mrs. Philip Flynn, respectively.

From 1926 to 1929, F. Scott Fitzgerald, his wife Zelda, their five-year-old daughter Scottie, and Scottie’s governess resided in Wilmington. As he began writing his third novel, Tender is the Night, Scott reached out to his college roommate, John Biggs, for help in finding a quiet space. Biggs, a lawyer in Wilmington, arranged for the Fitzgeralds to rent Ellerslie Farm in Edge Moor, Delaware. However, rather than serve as a tranquil place, Ellerslie was home to many social events hosted by the couple. By 1929, the Fitzgeralds were ready for a change and they moved to Paris.

The Society’s summer newsletter lightheartedly joked, “It does not appear the two couples [The Lairds and the Fitzgeralds] met socially…until this gala evening corrected a glaring oversight in Delaware’s history.” The party was rounded out with a tour of the Read House including a viewing of a painting by Zelda Fitzgerald never before exhibited, dancing, and refreshments in the garden. The event was well attended.

Guests arrive at the Read House for Gatsby-inspired party
Guests arrive at the Read House for Gatsby-inspired party

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