Thornton Wilder - Biography and Works

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975) was an American novelist and playwright born on April 17th in Madison Wisconsin, USA. Educated at Yale University, Thornton Wilder became famous as a novelist as well as a dramatist. During World War II, Wilder served the nation being a lieutenant colonel in the US Army Air Force Intelligence.

Thornton Wilder (1997-1975)

He then returned to continue writing and take a short professorship at Harvard. He thought himself a teacher first and a writer second, but he focused on writing throughout his life.

Among his best-known novels, The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1927) was a huge commercial success and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928. This novel is about the story of many unknown people who were on a bridge of Peru when it collapses. The novel explores the issue of problems of evils and the victimization of innocent people. In 1998 it was selected by the editorial board of the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of the twentieth century.

His successful play Our Town (1938) also won another Pulitzer Prize. In the Our Town play there is a narrator called the Stage manager who narrates the daily activities of Gibbs and Webb families to illustrate the significance of the simple life yet meaningful. Wilder received the National Book Award (1968) for the novel, The Eighth Day. His another play The Skin of Our Teeth (1943) earned a Pulitzer Prize. Similarly, his play The Matchmaker was performed for 486 times on Broadway from 1955 to 1957. He also published a book of short plays like The Happy Journey (1931) and The Angel that Trouble the Waters.

He received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 1957 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963. In 1968 he won the National Book Award for his novel The Eighth Day. Thornton Wilder’s reputation is mostly remembered as being one of the greats of American theater and the novel.

Thornton Wilder Study Center

The Happy Journey (1931)