Thornton Wilder - Life Stories, Books, and Links
Biographical Information

Stories about Thornton Wilder

Selected works by this author

Selected books about / related to this author

Recommended links
Picture of Thornton Wilder, author of  The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Our Town, and Hello, Dolly; dramatist / playwright; twentieth century American Literature
Photograph: Thornton Wilder starring as Stage Manager in a 1950 college production of Our Town   (source)
Thornton Wilder   (1897 - 1975)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  April 17, 1897
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
Died:  December 7, 1975
Hamden, Connecticut, United States
Related authors:
Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein
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Thornton Wilder - LIFE STORIES
1/22/1938     The Crucible and Our Town
On this day, fifteen years apart, Arthur Miller's The Crucible (1953) and Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938) premiered. Although both were poorly-reviewed to start, The Crucible would win a Tony and Our Town a Pulitzer; and both would become not only classics of American theater, but classic, opposite statements on the idea of community living.
12/7/2002     Wilder and the Lost Generation
On this day in 1975 Thornton Wilder died at the age of seventy-eight. Wilder's popular, warm-hearted, life-affirming themes put him on the periphery of the Lost Generation crowd, but they won him Pulitzers for both literature and drama -- the only writer to do so.
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3 Plays: Our Town, the Skin of Our Teeth, the Matchmaker
Heaven's My Destination
The Bridge of San Luis Rey
The Cabala
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The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Thornton Wilder
by Gertrude Stein, Edward Burns (Editor), Ulla E. Dydo (Editor), William Rice (Editor)
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About the Playwright: Thornton Wilder
Read an article which explores the paradox of Our Town -- a quintessential work about small-town America authored by a quintessentially cosmopolitan writer.

"It is ironic that Thornton Wilder, who in Our Town created one of the clearest visions of small-town America, was one of the most cosmopolitan authors this country has produced. ... In an odd way it is Thornton Wilder's very cosmopolitanism, his distance from small-town America, that made it possible for him to visualize it lovingly in Our Town. While other writers of his generation such as Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald felt alienated from the America where they grew up, Wilder 'had never lived in one place long enough to grow attached to it, and he seems to have felt at home wherever he went'. He did not experience the love-hate relationship that develops when one place and its values appear to be all the world. As a result, Wilder kept his optimism about America, and to a large extent he continued to share its religious values, though he examined them carefully in his novel Heaven's My Destination (l935)."
Gay Bears: Thornton Wilder
A website dedicated to presenting "the history of sexual minorities" offers this biography of Wilder which examines his relationships with Gertrude Stein and Samuel Steward. With a bibliography and links.

"Thornton Wilder's play Our Town has become a staple of high school drama departments, attractive perhaps more for its economical lack of scenery and props than for its sad story of love, loss and regret. There has been speculation that the character of Simon Stimson, the town drunk and organist for the Congregational Church who eventually commits suicide, represents a closeted gay man destroyed by life in a small town."
Library of Congress: "Today in History"
Find a short annotated biography, photographs by Carl Van Vechten, and resources on the Federal Theater Project and contemporaries including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Orson Welles.

"Wilder's dramatic works include the Pulitzer Prize winning plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth. Set in fictional Grover's Corner, New Hampshire, Our Town (1937) employs a choric narrator called the 'Stage Manager,' and a minimalist set to underscore the universality of human experience. The Skin of Our Teeth debuted in 1943 with Frederic March and Talullah Bankhead in the lead roles. Again, the themes are familiar -- war, pestilence, economic depression, fire. Ignoring the limits of time and space, just four characters and three acts are used to review the history of mankind."
Thornton Wilder Society
Find information about the organization's activities, a biography on the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, chronology of important events in the author's life, bibliography, and an image gallery. Also features answers to frequently asked questions, and a commentary and teaching guide to "Our Town" and "The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden."

"Wilder commented that Our Town, 'is an attempt to find a value above all price for the smallest events in our daily life.' The same may be said about Happy Journey, in which Wilder examines the importance of American family life, its joys and sadnesses, beginnings and ends. The Kirbys display an abiding good humor and cheer, but they have also faced enormous losses, first in their son's death, then in their granddaughter's. These tragedies are with us in every generation. The journey to Trenton and Camden is the metaphorical journey of all our lives, made up of the accumulation of small events and pleasures which give us the fortitude to face life's large and painful moments and go forward."
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March 17, 2018
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