Sloan Wilson

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Sloan Wilson
Born Sloan Wilson
(1920-05-08)8 May 1920
Norwalk, Connecticut, United States
Died 25 May 2003(2003-05-25) (aged 83)
Colonial Beach, Virginia, United States
Nationality American

Sloan Wilson (May 8, 1920 – May 25, 2003) was an American author.


Born in Norwalk, Connecticut, Wilson graduated from Harvard University in 1942. He served in World War II, as an officer of the United States Coast Guard, commanding a naval trawler for the Greenland Patrol and an army supply ship in the Pacific Ocean.

After the war, Wilson worked as a reporter for the company Time-Life. His first book, Voyage to Somewhere, was published during 1947 and used his wartime experiences. He also published stories in the magazine The New Yorker, and worked as a college professor at the State University of New York's University of Buffalo.


Wilson published fifteen books, including the bestsellers The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955) and A Summer Place (1958), both of which were adapted into feature movies. A later novel, A Sense of Values, in which protagonist Nathan Bond is a disenchanted cartoonist involved with adultery and alcoholism, was not well received.[1] In Georgie Winthrop, a 45-year-old college vice president begins a relationship with the 17-year-old daughter of his childhood love.[2] The novel The Ice Brothers is loosely based on Wilson's experiences in Greenland while serving with the US Coast Guard. The memoir What Shall We Wear to This Party? recalls his experiences in the Coast Guard during World War II and the changes to his life after the bestseller Gray Flannel was published.[3]

Wilson was an advocate for integrating, funding and improving public schools. He became Assistant Director of the National Citizens Commission for Public Schools as well as Assistant Director of the 1955-56 White House Conference on Education.[4]


He suffered from alcoholism throughout his life, and Alzheimer's disease toward the end. In addition to novels and magazine articles, he funded himself during his later years by writing commissioned works such as biographies and yacht histories. He was living in Colonial Beach, Virginia at the time of his death.

Wilson was married twice, first to Elise Pickhardt during 1941, then to Betty Stephens during 1962. He had four children. His daughter Lisa is a published author, and his son David Sloan Wilson is an evolutionary biologist. Another daughter, Rebecca, is a nurse.

Wilson's service as an officer in World War II is noted at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.

Connection to Unabomber[edit]

A copy of one of Wilson's books, Ice Brothers, was used to conceal a bomb by terrorist Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber). Kaczynski sent a parcel to the Lake Forest, Illinois home of the President of United Airlines, Percy Wood. On June 10, 1980, Wood received the parcel in the mail; it contained a copy of Ice Brothers. When Wood opened the book, a bomb concealed inside exploded, injuring him severely.[5]



Short fiction[edit]

  • "The Best and Most Powerful Machines" (Harper's Magazine, June 1946)
  • "The Octopus" (The New Yorker, June 1946)
  • "The Wonderful Plans" (The New Yorker, December 1946)
  • "Check for $90,000" (The New Yorker, February 1947)
  • "Bearer of Bad Tidings" (The New Yorker, March 1947)
  • "Housewarming" (The New Yorker, May 1947)
  • "A Very Old Man" (The New Yorker, September 1947)
  • "Drunk on the Train" (The New Yorker, January 1948)
  • "The Reunion" (The New Yorker, March 1948)
  • "Bygones" (The New Yorker, June 1949)
  • "The Alarm Clock" (The New Yorker, February 1951)
  • "The Powder Keg" (The New Yorker, October 1951)
  • "The Black Mollies" (Harper's Magazine, December 1951)
  • "A Sword for my Children" (The New Yorker, December 1951)
  • "A Letter of Admonition" (The New Yorker, December 1951)
  • "Citation" (The New Yorker, February 1952)
  • "The Cook and the Book" (The New Yorker, April 1952)
  • "The Disappearance" (The New Yorker, May 1952)
  • "The News" (The New Yorker, June 1952)
  • "The Regatta" (The New Yorker, June 1952)
  • "A Friendship Sloop" (The New Yorker, April 1953)
  • "Lollapalooza and the Rogers Rock Hotel" (The New Yorker, October 1953)


  • The Soldiers who Sit (The New Yorker, January 1945)
  • Cup and Lip (The New Yorker, March 1946)


  • Public Schools Are Better Than You Think (Harper's Mazine, September 1955)
  • It's Time to Close Our Carnival (Life, March 24, 1958)
  • The American Way of Birth (Harper's Magazine, July 1964)
  • Away from It All (1969)
  • The Heirs of Captain Slocum: Alone At Sea (Harper's Magazine, August 1980)
  • What Shall We Wear to This Party?: The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, Twenty Years Before And After (1976)


  1. ^ "The Disenchanted Forest". Time. 1960-11-21. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  2. ^ "Grey Flannel Mortarboard". Time. 1963-01-18. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  3. ^ "Self-Portrait in Gray". Time. 1976-07-12. Retrieved 2008-12-21. 
  4. ^ "Obituary: Sloan Wilson". The Independent (London). 2003-06-06. Retrieved 2008-12-20. 
  5. ^ "Following the Unabom trail". CNN. Retrieved 2007-10-19. 

External links[edit]