Saturday, July 5, 2008


Born: April 17, 1897
Madison, Wisconsin
Died: December 7, 1975
Hamden, Connecticut

American playwright and novelist

Novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder won two Pulitzer Prizes for his plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth, written in 1938 and 1942 respectively. His most well-known novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, also won him a Pulitzer Prize in 1927.


Thornton Niven Wilder was born on April 17, 1897, in Madison, Wisconsin, the second son of four children of Amos Parker and Isabella Wilder. In 1906 the family moved to China when his father became the United States Consul-General in Hong Kong. The teenager attended the English China Inland Mission School at Cheefoo but returned with his mother and siblings to California in 1912 because of the unstable political conditions in China at the time. While in high school, Wilder became interested in theater and began regularly attending performances of plays. He also began to demonstrate his unique talents for writing.

Graduating in 1915 from Berkeley High School, Wilder attended Oberlin College before transferring to Yale University in 1917. He served with the First Coast Artillery in Rhode Island in 1918 during World War I (1914–18), when Germany waged war against much of Europe. After the war he returned to his studies at Yale. In 1920 he received his bachelor’s degree and saw the first publication of his play The Trumpet Shall Sound in Yale Literary Magazine.


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